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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid