To investigate whether timing, number, and frequency of mentally stimulating activities in midlife and late life are associated with the risk of incident mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
We conducted a prospective cohort study in the setting of the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Olmsted County, Minnesota, including 2,000 individuals aged ≥70 years who were cognitively unimpaired at baseline and were followed for a median of 5.0 years. Participants completed a self-reported survey on timing, number, and frequency of engagement in 5 mentally stimulating activities (reading books, computer use, social activities, playing games, craft activities) at baseline.
The risk of incident MCI was significantly reduced for participants who engaged in social activities (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval] 0.80 [0.64–0.99]) and playing games (0.80 [0.66–0.98]) in both late life and midlife combined. Using a computer was associated with a decreased risk regardless of timing (not late life but midlife: 0.52 [0.31–0.88]; late life but not midlife: 0.70 [0.56–0.88]; late life and midlife: 0.63 [0.51–0.79]). ... mehrCraft activities were associated with a reduced risk of incident MCI only when carried out in late life but not midlife (0.58 [0.34–0.97]). Furthermore, engaging in a higher number of activities in late life was associated with a significantly reduced risk of incident MCI (any 2 activities: 0.72 [0.53–0.99], any 3: 0.55 [0.40–0.77], any 4: 0.44 [0.30–0.65], all 5: 0.57 [0.34–0.96]).
Engaging in a higher number of mentally stimulating activities, particularly in late life, is associated with a decreased risk of MCI among community-dwelling older persons.