Take Dementia Out With the Trash: Daily Chores May Prevent Cognitive Decline

Getting an elderly person to be active by having them help with daily chores like doing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, and folding laundry might just help prevent them from developing dementia, according to a study reported by HealthDay.com.

Researchers from the University of Florida gave 200 people, with an average age of 75, chemically modified water to drink that would help them measure each person's daily caloric output. They then divided the seniors up into three separate groups based on how much energy they used.

It came as no surprise to the researchers that the most active group, comprised of people that burned 1,000 calories a day on average, were more likely to have nimbler minds. In fact, they found that even five years later, the people in the highest activity bracket had a 91% reduction in risk for cognitive decline.

The intriguing finding was that the elderly people who were expending the most calories weren't doing it by working out more—they were just busier. Only 18% of the people in the 1,000 calorie group said that they engaged in regular, energetic exercise.

The study authors say that moving around, doing chores and performing caregiving tasks was the reason that group had such a diminished risk.

Their activity was spread throughout the day instead of being confined to a 30 to 45 minute window. This helped them use more calories and decrease their risk for dementia.

This study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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