New research suggests that higher late life cognitive reserve--an ability to offset the losses associated with age- and disease-related changes in the brain--may help prevent delirium.

In a study of 142 older surgical patients, greater participation in cognitive activities was linked with lower incidence and lower severity of delirium; however, higher literacy was not. Among individual leisure activities, reading books, using electronic mail, singing, and playing computer games were associated with lower dementia incidence and severity.

"Given the serious negative consequences of delirium, clinical trials should be done to follow up on our findings to examine if promoting participation in cognitively stimulating activities or cognitive training may reduce the incidence and severity of postoperative delirium," said Dr. Joe Verghese, senior author of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study.

Source: Wiley