HealthDay (4/5, Dotinga) reports that two studies published online April 4 in the journal Neurology offer “insights into the mysterious phenomenon of rapid cognitive decline in the two or three years before death, and [confirm] that intellectually challenging activities can help keep your mind sharp.” The first study “suggests that while Alzheimer’s disease may nudge the mental decline early on, other causes seem to be at play when the decline speeds up in the years just before death.” HealthDay adds, “Can people do anything to prevent the mind from declining in old age? A second study suggests that’s a possibility — through activities such as reading, playing board games, and doing crossword puzzles.”
An accompanying editorial observed, “The research on declining mental abilities represents an important advance in the science of aging,” MedPage Today (4/5, Smith) reports. The editorial argued that “the controversial issue of de-differentiation’ may hold clues to the biology of aging and is thus ‘an important research topic whose study deepens our understanding of both disease-based and normal biological aging.’
— “Brain Falters Near End of Life, but Games, Puzzles Might Slow Decline,”Randy Dotinga , HealthDay, April 4, 2012.