Online Program

Evidence-based practice: Using leisure activities to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Colette McAfee, PhD, MPH, School of Nursing and Health Sciences, Westminster College, Salt Lake City, UT
Background: With the baby boomers stepping into their retirement age, prevention, amelioration, and care for those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is becoming a more prominent and pressing issue. This study aimed to identify and synthesize evidence for leisure activity as a protective factor to reduce the risk of AD and cognitive decline prior to dementia. 

Methods: This was a systematic literature review summarizing literature on specific leisure activities and their impact on Alzheimer’s disease risk among older adults. The literature search was conducted over Medline, PsychInfo, ERIC, dissertation databases, and Google Scholar. A round of snowballing was conducted from the cited references. 

Results:  Of the 5 studies analyzed, all studies demonstrated that participating in leisure activities leads to a reduced risk of acquiring dementia or AD. Significant leisure activities included:  taking up a new hobby, spending time with friends or relatives, reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments, and walking for pleasure. Evidence also showed that participating in more types of leisure activities would reduce the risk by about 20%. 

Discussion: Although these specific activities have been investigated, individual leisure activities need to be further explored to determine if some are more effective than others in the prevention of dementia. In order to draw accurate conclusions about the influence of certain leisure activities on reducing the risk of AD, dosage of the particular activities needs to be assessed in more detail and in the same manner across studies.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify leisure activities that reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease among older adults. Identify an effective mixture of leisure activities in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease among older adults. Assess gaps in the literature that need to be further investigated to accurately draw conclusions about the influence of specific leisure activities.

Keyword(s): Dementia, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral student in Health Education at the University of Toledo, and I have also obtained my MPH from the University of Michigan in Health Behavior and Health Education. I have completed several school related projects related to aging and Alzheimer's disease, and my dissertation is focused on older adults. Among my research interests has been the aging population and methods to reduce chronic disease morbidities and improve chronic disease management.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.