Osvaldo Almeida, from the Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing based at the University of Western Australia, and the lead investigator on the project, said that while there has been evidence that linked higher levels of education and mental activity with lower rates of dementia, this survey points to a similar link between computer use and dementia.
“For those who use regularly the internet, email, browse information and communicate with family it seems to decrease the risk of dementia,” said Prof Almeida.
According to the paper, published in the current edition of the Plosone journal, 24 million people worldwide had been diagnosed with dementia in 2005. That figure had been expected to reach 50 million by 2025.
According to Prof Almeida however the WA study suggests that the future may in fact not be that bleak given that more and more older people now have access to technology.
The report notes that from the longitudinal study it is not possible to determine whether computer use actually delays the pathological processes that lead to dementia or whether computer use merely delays the clinical expression of the condition by improving the testing ability of older men. Either way the signs are positive.
While Prof Almeida said that the results suggested there would be merit in optimising access to computers for old people at a community level, the report notes that technology is already finding its way into the demographic.
What about older women? Read on