Culture and Health

Cultural engagement and cognitive reserve: museum attendance and dementia incidence over a 10-year period

Theories on cognitive reserve and stress suggest that activities that are mentally engaging, pleasant and socially interactive could be protective against the development of dementia. Using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, this study shows that for adults aged 50 and older visiting museums every few months or more was associated with a lower incidence rate of dementia over a 10-year follow-up period compared with less-frequent visiting. This association was independent of demographics, socioeconomic status, health-related variables including sensory impairment, depression, vascular conditions and other forms of community engagement. Hence,visiting museums may be a promising psychosocial activity to support the prevention of dementia.