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What Keeps You Sharp?
We conducted the What Keeps You Sharp? survey because we wanted to know how much people understood about these issues.
As we age, some people report their memory getting a bit poorer, or that they slow down when solving problems. Some people see these changes as a normal part of ageing while others think these are early signs of something more serious (for example dementia).
How our thinking skills might change as we age is a real concern for many people.
When we asked whether changes
in thinking skills might be a sign of something more serious, 3 in 10 people thought they were.
While some changes might lead onto something more serious, we need to remember some changes in thinking skills with age are to be expected.
When we asked how concerned people were about their thinking skills declining in the future, more than 7 in 10 were either somewhat concerned or very concerned.
That highlights what an important issue this is. While we have lots of questions in the research community about what things are good for our thinking skills, we do also have some good evidence supporting being as active and engaged as possible.
We need to talk about those things
more clearly, so people have the best information about what changes might be
expected. If everyone has access to good information, it might help us to think about doing things to keep sharp, in the same way we might make decisions about our heart health, for example.
Who conducted the survey?
The survey was led by Dr Alan Gow at The Ageing Lab, based in the School of Social Sciences at Heriot-Watt University. The research team was Dr Eleftheria Vaportzis and Malwina Niechcial. The survey was compiled by the researchers with input from their expert collaborators and colleagues. Many of the questions were taken from similar surveys conducted in other countries in recent years.
What Keeps You Sharp? was the  rst stage of an ongoing research project called The Intervention Factory. That project is exploring how taking up a new activity might bene t thinking skills in people aged 65 and over.
What was done?
The survey was distributed online by
the research team via their networks of groups and charities that work with older people, local community groups and national organisations. The survey was also distributed by a social research company to ensure a balanced sample across the different age groups.
Between November 2016 and March 2017, 3,330 people responded to the survey. The results in this report are based on about 3,146 people who answered most of the questions (the difference in numbers is mainly people who started the survey but
What keeps you sharp? A national survey about what people in the UK think about their thinking skills

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