Making several lifestyle changes improves memory and thinking in older adults

Researchers in Finland have determined that making many simultaneous lifestyle changes can help to improve memory and thinking skills in older adults who are deemed ‘at risk’ of developing dementia.

Posted on 16th July 2014

Researchers in Finland have determined that making many simultaneous lifestyle changes can help to improve memory and thinking skills in older adults who are deemed ‘at risk’ of developing dementia.

The study, which was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014, was a two year randomised controlled trial involving participants aged between 60 and 77. All participants had been classed as ‘at risk’ of developing dementia score based on cardiovascular health and other lifestyle factors. The participants were split into two groups. The ‘control’ group was given health advice only, whereas the ‘intervention’ group had several lifestyle factors changed, including nutritional guidance, physical exercise and management of heart health. The study found that after two years, the memory and thinking skills of the intervention group were better than that of the control group. The researchers are planning on a seven year follow-up study to validate these preliminary results and measure the incidence of dementia.

Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:

“While this study showed benefits of exercise on memory and thinking performance rather than focusing on whether it could prevent dementia, the results add to previous suggestions that adopting an overall healthy lifestyle is important for brain health as we get older. The findings build on previous evidence that several different lifestyle factors may be involved in our cognitive health, including exercise and heart health.

“It will be interesting to see the results of an extended version of this study and to look at the effects of these interventions on overall dementia risk within the group. It is also important for research to take into account other potential factors such as genetics in addition to age and cardiovascular health as indicators of dementia risk.”

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