Watching TV may increase risk of dementia in older people, study finds


How older people spend their sedentary time — what they do while sitting — makes a difference in their chances of developing dementia, according to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It found that those whose sitting time was primarily spent watching television had a 24% increased risk of dementia, while those who spent that time on a computer had a 15% reduced risk of dementia. The researchers explained that watching TV is cognitively passive, meaning little thinking is required, while computer use is cognitively active, meaning it (like reading) is more intellectually stimulating. .

For both groups of study participants, their odds of developing sitting-related dementia persisted, regardless of their physical activity at other times of the day. Previous studies have shown physical exercise to be beneficial in reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Hearing loss is a major risk factor for dementia. Hearing aids can help.

Dementia, which is not considered a normal part of aging, is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of symptoms — memory loss, confusion, language and reasoning problems, and behavioral changes — that progress with age. time and affect a person’s daily life and activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Today, about 6 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias – most over the age of 65 and more women than men – and that number is expected to rise to 14. million by 2060, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new research involved 146,651 adults aged 60 and over who did not have dementia at the start of the study. After a follow-up of about a dozen years, 3,507 participants had been diagnosed with dementia.

As the researchers concluded, “reducing passive cognitive ability [sedentary behaviors] such as watching television and increasing cognitive activity [ones] as computer use, even in small amounts, can have a significant impact on the risk of dementia in individuals, regardless of their engagement in physical activity.

This article is part of the Post’s “Big Number” series, which briefly examines the statistical side of health problems. Additional information and relevant research is available via the hyperlinks.

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