Is use of the internet in midlife associated with lower dementia incidence?

Study suggests that use of internet by individuals aged 50 years or older is associated with a reduced risk of dementia

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Objectives: Dementia is expected to affect one million individuals in the United Kingdom by 2025; its prodromal phase may start decades before its clinical onset. The aim of this study is to investigate whether use of internet from 50 years of age is associated with a lower incidence of dementia over a ten-year follow-up.

Methods: We analysed data based on 8,238 dementia free (at baseline in 2002–2004) core participants from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Information on baseline use of internet was obtained through questionnaires; dementia casesness was based on participant (or informant) reported physician diagnosed dementia or overall score on the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly (IQCODE). Cox proportional hazards regression analysis was used for examining the relationship between internet use and incident dementia.

Results: There were 301 (5.01%) incident dementia cases during the follow-up. After full multivariable adjustment for potential confounding factors, baseline internet use was associated with a 40% reduction in dementia risk assessed between 2006–2012 (HR = 0.60 CI: 0.42–0.85; p < 0.05).

Conclusion: This study suggests that use of internet by individuals aged 50 years or older is associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Additional studies are needed to better understand the potential causal mechanisms underlying this association.

Full reference: Eleonora d’Orsi, et al.  Is use of the internet in midlife associated with lower dementia incidence? Results from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing
Aging and Mental Health |Published online: 10 Aug 2017

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