Study finds link between computer use, brain health in seniors 70+

DALLAS -- A new study suggests computer use, and even playing video games, can help support brain health in older patients.

Keeping brains healthy is one of the goals of the Texas Alzheimer's and Memory Disorders program at Texas Health Dallas, and its director, Dr. Diana Kerwin.

"It is meant to diagnose early any memory issues," Dr. Kerwin said of the program, "but it's also meant to be, really, a preventative.  So for people that have either Alzheimer's in their family or memory concerns, really meant to sort of help figure out what they can do to slow down or prevent themselves from having any further memory loss."

And the recent study, from JAMA Neurology, has given Dr. Kerwin's team some specifics on ways to do just that.

"We already knew that if you were active, and that's both physically and mentally active, that that was a good sign of reducing your own risk," said Kerwin.  "What this study did was it quantified it a little bit more, and it also broke it down into which activities seem to be a little bit better than others.  It seems like computer use is really good, and so is playing games, and so is this other socialization."

Dr. Kerwin says games, crafts, and a moderate dose of computer use are all part of the balanced lifestyle she recommends to help her patients stay sharp, and she says the study's advice applies to non-patients too.

"The first thing you should do is 'Let me add in some type of activity that engages my brain. Let me go sign up to go to that lecture, or go to some event, or just begin playing a game,'" Kerwin said.  "Even if it's a computerized game.  Game playing and also computer use is a good brain activity to do."

So if you want to keep your brain working forever, don't sleep on technology, y'all!