Using Computers to Avoid Dementia?

Dementia risk was lower for older men who used computers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Computers can provide games and social connections for elderly people. But can using a computer help the mind stay strong?

Recent research found that the use of computers by older men was linked to a lower risk of dementia. The more often the men in the study used a computer, the lower the risk of developing dementia. Using computers may help keep the mind active and strong.

"Talk to your doctor about healthy types of computer use."

The study, led by Osvaldo Almeida, MD, PhD, of the School of Psychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia, enrolled 5506 men between the ages of 69 and 87.

They asked men to rate their computer use. Men could choose that they used computers daily, weekly, less than weekly or never.

The researchers followed the men for up to eight and half years to see who developed dementia.

Of the men in the study, 33 percent said they used computers. During the study, 6.3 percent of men in the study developed dementia.

Men who used computers were less likely to develop dementia than men who did not use computers.

The risk of dementia decreased with increasing computer use. Men using computers daily had lower risk than men who used computers weekly.

The authors said  using computers may provide mental stimulation helping to lower the risk of dementia.

They noted  their study is limited because it just looked at men.

This study was also observational, so it cannot show that computer use causes a change in dementia risk. It only shows  there is a relationship.

More research is needed to understand the link between computer use and dementia.

The authors concluded in their paper, “In the meantime, there seems to be no obvious reason not to encourage older people to embrace the use of computer technology…”

However, the study authors  warn  sitting at a computer for long periods can have negative effects on health, so lifestyle changes should be made with caution.

This study was published August 28 in PLoS One. The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

The authors declare no competing interests.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 14, 2012
Last Updated:
September 17, 2012