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Did you know? You can train your memory

Feb. 9, 2018—Exercising the mind may improve memory and decision making for older adults. The findings from a new study highlight the benefits of this medication-free treatment.

A matter of memory

Thinking clearly and making decisions are crucial abilities for older adults' quality of life. Recently, medical experts have shown interest in medication-free treatments for memory problems. Cognitive training is one of these treatments.

In this study, researchers wanted to take a closer look at memory training. So they recruited nearly 150 older adults from Canadian memory clinics. These adults had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, which may eventually develop into dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

The adults were placed into three groups: a cognitive training group, a psychosocial group and a control group.

For the cognitive training group, members participated in the MEMO program, which gave them special training meant to improve their memory and attention span. Those in the control group did not interact with researchers or follow a program. For the psychosocial group, members were taught to focus on the positive parts of their lives and increase positive situations.

The result? Those in the cognitive training group improved their memory scores by 35 to 40 percent. And they maintained those scores six months later. The other two groups, by contrast, showed no memory benefits or mood improvement.

The full study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

If dementia comes calling

Are you worried that you or a loved one is developing dementia? Even when your memory is mostly good, there are a few of the early signs. According to the National Institute on Aging, those include:

  • Having problems with planning ahead or multitasking.
  • Acting impulsively with no consideration of others.
  • Gorging on food.
  • Speaking normally but not understanding or correctly using some words.
  • Having trouble speaking, such as slurring, but the message is normal.
  • Lacking interest, drive or initiative.
  • Displaying emotions that are flat, exaggerated or improper.

If you are concerned about early dementia, talk to your doctor and ask about what treatments might be right for you.

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