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Illiterate People Three Times More Likely to Suffer from Dementia

The researchers found that dementia tripled in those elderly who were never taught how to read or write.

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Updated:November 14, 2019, 4:23 PM IST
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Illiterate People Three Times More Likely to Suffer from Dementia
The researchers found that dementia tripled in those elderly who were never taught how to read or write.

Turns out, knowing how to read and write can actually save your life! A new study suggests that illiterate people are three times more likely suffer from dementia later in their lives. The study, published in Daily Mail, and conducted by researchers from the Columbia University in New York, came to the conclusion after looking at nearly 1,000 people septuagenarians (people between 70-79 years) over a span of four years.

Results of the study were originally published in the journal Nature. The researchers subsequently found that dementia tripled in those elderly who were never taught how to read or write.

According to the study, researchers opined that literate people are able to engage in activities that stimulate the brain, which help build up cognitive reserve, which is the mind's resistance to the brain getting damaged. The study saw 983 participants, all of whom had less than four years of school education, from Manhattan, participating in the study.

Volunteers were subsequently divided into two groups. 237 of them were illiterate and 746 were able to read and write. Participants were subjected to memory tests as well as follow-up appointments with the researchers every two years.

Researchers found that 35 percent of the illiterate volunteers had dementia at the start of the study, while just 18 percent of those who could read were suffering from the same. After four years, rates of dementia rose to 48 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

Speaking about the same, lead author of the study Dr Jennifer Manly said that being able to read and write allowed people to engage in more activities like reading newspapers and helping their children or grandchildren with their homework, which engages the brain. She added that while previous research showed that such activities reduced the risk of dementia, their studies provided more evidence that reading and writing may be important factors when it comes to staving the disease.

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