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Seniors who go to Back to School Reduce Dementia Risk

If you studied up on our New Year's Resolutions, you may be considering #2 Work Your Body and Mind. Here's even more of a reason to consider going back to school as a senior 65 and older.

Did you know that taking a class in just about any subject can improve your cognitive abilities, fuel your memory and have fun all at the same time? Senior citizens who stay mentally active can enjoy all of these awards, say recent studies.

The studies of Australian investigators have shown that going back to school could help reduce chances of early onset dementia in elderly people. Taking college courses helps boost brain functions, encourage critical thinking and activate parts of the brain that elderly people may not use on an average basis.

This research contributes to the ever-expanding body of evidence that making healthy, active lifestyle choices, like exercise, mental games and social activities as a senior may slow age-related cognitive decline.

"The study findings are exciting because they demonstrate that it's never too late to take action to maximize the cognitive capacity of your brain," says Megan Lenehan, lead researcher from the University of Tasmania in Australia.

By the end of their study, 92% of senior participants who had enrolled in college courses had an increase in brain functions and skills such as memory and planning while only 56% of seniors who did not take any classes increased their brain functions. The evidence speaks for itself. Nearly 40% more seniors (than those who sat and did nothing) increased their mental capacity to prevent dementia and memory-related afflictions simply by taking college courses for fun.

The participants studied a plethora of subjects, from history and philosophy to fine arts. Although some seniors took courses online, the researches believe that those who studied on campus in classrooms benefit more from developing new social connections.

Actively participating in mentally stimulating activity later in life is one of the main ways to prevent dementia. So what are you waiting for? Take a fun class, like art or poetry, to ease yourself back into the academic groove. Whatever courses you take, you'll definitely gain knowledge that you can share with your existing friends and the ones you'll meet on campus.

So be bold and enroll in a college course today! Remember, many local community colleges offer free courses especially for seniors age 65 and up.

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