Every year around the world 7,7 million new cases of Alzheimer's are diagnosed (representing 70% of total dementia). With a population over 60 that will double, according to estimates, between 2000 and 2050 will double, it becomes essential to find tools and activities that can prevent the onset of this disease.

From a terminological point of view, we can distinguish between:

  • Prevention: treatments and activities for individuals who have not yet (or have not manifested) the disease
  • Diagnosis early: methods for detecting the disease in its early stage (usually early diagnosis improves prognosis)
  • Protective factors: an aspect of behavior or the environment that can prevent or mitigate a health-related condition.

A systematic review

Lillo-Crespo and colleagues (2020) [1] carried out a scoping review of 21 articles starting from the following question:

Can the game of chess improve the cognitive abilities of the elderly population diagnosed with Alzheimer's / dementia (or at least delay its onset)?

I results they can be summarized as follows: despite the lack of evidence on the choice of one activity over another, it is reasonable to consider that activities such as chess can play a preventive role against dementia; it seems more difficult to identify its protective role; moreover, specific activities may be more "accepted" than generic activities such as chess.

There is still a lack of studies able to investigate the possibility that playing chess as a young person could bring benefits in old age, or studies able to identify the benefits of chess with respect to the type of dementia. In short, much still has to be studied and researched in these areas: what is certain is that playing chess is an excellent pastime to keep the mind trained, and the internet has also given the possibility to play with peers to those who previously could not for reasons of time or distance.

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Episodic memory cognitive decline