Living amidst greenery could help fend off dementia

Grass, trees and other greenery can help keep the brain in good health and slow the advance of cognitive degeneration. That is the claim of a recently published study.

The research, undertaken by a team from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, comprised of a ten year study of 6,500 people between the ages of 45 and 68, all living in the UK. It found that the loss of cognitive function, which occurs during the aging process, was slower in those who lived in areas surrounded by greenery than the ones who did not.

Over the course of the ten years, the mental functioning of those taking part in the study was tested three times, assessing verbal and mathematical reasoning, along with fluency and short-term memory. The decline in these functions was also recorded.

The study proposed that exposure to risks such as pollution and noise, along with stress and a lack of exercise had an effect on the possibility of developing dementia, whereas green spaces allowed people to exercise more, experience less stress and avoid air pollution and noise.

Lead researcher, Carmen de Keijzer said: “Our research shows that the decline in the cognitive score after the 10-year follow up was 4.6 per cent smaller in participants living in greener neighbourhoods.”

Her colleague in the research team, Payam Dadvand, said: “Although the differences in cognitive decline observed in our study are modest on an individual level, they become much more significant if we consider these findings across the population as a whole.

“If confirmed by future studies, our results may provide an evidence base for implementing targeted interventions aimed at decelerating cognitive decline in older adults residing in urban areas and hence improving their quality of life.”