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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid