News / Health

Mental Training Pays Long Dividends for Elderly

File - Alexis McKenzie, right, executive director of The Methodist Home of the District of Columbia Forest Side, an Alzheimer's assisted-living facility, shares a light moment with resident Catherine Peake, in Washington, February 6, 2012.
File - Alexis McKenzie, right, executive director of The Methodist Home of the District of Columbia Forest Side, an Alzheimer's assisted-living facility, shares a light moment with resident Catherine Peake, in Washington, February 6, 2012.

Related Articles

Heavy Internet Use May Lead to Addictive Behaviors

Researchers say the negative consequences of the Internet may be quite underappreciated

Head Trauma Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease Plaques

Study indicates history of concussion may increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease by contributing to build-up of Alzheimer’s-associated plaques in brain
Just a little cognitive training goes a long way toward stemming mental decline in older adults, according to new research. Mental decline is a leading factor in reducing quality of life for the elderly, the study says.

According to the findings, older adults who received just 10 sessions of different types of cognitive training were better at reasoning and other mental tasks 10 years after the sessions when compared to a control group who received no training.

For a group that received “booster” sessions over the next three years, the results were even more positive, the research said.

"Showing that training gains are maintained for up to 10 years is a stunning result because it suggests that a fairly modest intervention in practicing mental skills can have relatively long-term effects beyond what we might reasonably expect," said lead author Dr. George Rebok of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, in a statement.

The new data from the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study comes 10 years after an initial group of 2,832 participants with an average age of 73.6 years were divided into four groups.

One group consisted of memory training, in which they were given tips for remembering word lists, the order of items, and to remember the gist of texts.

Another group received reasoning training, involving instruction for how to “solve problems that follow patterns, which researchers say is useful for reading bus schedules or completing order forms.

A third group received speed-of processing training, using a computer to test the ability to “locate visual information quickly.” This kind of task, researchers say, is useful for looking up phone numbers or making quick decisions while driving.

A fourth, or control group, received no training.

The three groups all received training in small groups in 10 sessions of 60 to 75 minutes each over five to six weeks.

The researchers found that 10 years later, each group that received training had “less difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living” such as taking medication, cooking or keeping tabs on financial activities.

About 60 percent of the trained participants “were at or above their starting level of function” regarding these kinds of activities. This compares to just 50 percent for the control group. Reasoning and speed-of-processing performance also showed “significant improvements” for those who received training. Memory performance, however, did not seem to last for the full 10 years. Those participants scored better than their untrained peers after five years, but after 10 years, there was not much difference with the control group.

The study also showed that those who received training boosters 11 and 35 months after the initial training showed improvement in reasoning and speed-of-processing.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), which helped fund the study, said the findings could have implications for the elderly and those who take care of them.

“Now, these longer term results indicate that particular types of cognitive training can provide a lasting benefit a decade later, said NIA director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. in a statement. “They suggest that we should continue to pursue cognitive training as an intervention that might help maintain the mental abilities of older people so that they may remain independent and in the community.”

The findings are published today in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More