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Discussion groups, games, gardening, and other mentally stimulating activities help to boost cognition, among men and women with mild to moderate dementia. A team from Bangor University (Wales, United Kingdom), reviewed 15 clinical studies involved in the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group Specialized Register, involving 718 patients.

The researchers found consistent improvements in cognitive function among individuals engaged in mentally stimulating activities. Commenting that a wide range of activities that aim to stimulate thinking and memory generally, including discussion of past and present events and topics of interest, word games, puzzles, music and practical activities such as baking or indoor gardening, may be of clinical benefit, the study authors conclude that: “There was consistent evidence from multiple trials that cognitive stimulation programs benefit cognition in people with mild to moderate dementia over and above any medication effects.””

[Elisa Aguirre, Aimee E Spector, Martin Orrell. “Cognitive stimulation to improve cognitive functioning in people with dementia,” The Cochrane Library, February 2012.]