Study Finds Long-Term Brain Health Effects of Pandemic on Those 50 and Over

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In the study, researchers have discovered an essential link between the conditions of the pandemic and the lifestyle changes resulting from lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions, and a concerning decline in brain health. 

This study, which is the largest of its kind, sheds light on the long-term effects of the pandemic on our mental abilities. 

In a recent study conducted by researchers, it has been found that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on the brain health of individuals aged 50 and over. 

This impact has been observed in accelerated cognitive decline, irrespective of whether these individuals contracted the virus. 

The research found that cognitive function and working memory in older adults declined more rapidly during the first year of the pandemic, from March 2020 to February 2021, even if they didn’t contract the virus. 

This trend continued into 2021 and 2022, suggesting an impact beyond the initial lockdowns.

The acceleration of cognitive decline can be attributed to various factors that have emerged with the arrival of COVID-19. 

These factors include increased loneliness, depression, reduced exercise, higher alcohol consumption, and the effects of the disease itself

study-finds-long-term-brain-health-effects-pandemic-those-50-over
In the study, researchers have discovered an essential link between the conditions of the pandemic and the lifestyle changes resulting from lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions, and a concerning decline in cognitive function.

The study, led by the University of Exeter and King’s College London, was published in the Lancet Healthy Longevity journal.

Anne Corbett, a professor in dementia research and the lead at Exeter for the Protect study, emphasized the importance of supporting people with early cognitive decline, as this can potentially reduce the risk of dementia. 

She advised individuals concerned about their memory to consult with their GP.

The researchers analyzed brain function tests from 3,142 participants in the Protect study, focusing on people aged 50 to 90 in the UK. 

Short-term memory and the ability to complete complex tasks were assessed. 

The study compared data collected from the years before the pandemic with the results from the first and second years of the pandemic.

The study found that the rate of cognitive decline accelerated during the first year of the pandemic, with a more significant decrease observed in individuals who had shown signs of mild cognitive decline before COVID-19.

While the study is observational and cannot establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship, it highlights the importance of addressing lifestyle changes brought about by the pandemic, such as depression, loneliness, alcohol use, and reduced exercise, as public health priorities to benefit cognition.

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