When it comes to keeping your mind sharp as you age, new research suggests that the old adage of "use it or lose it" applies to even healthy elderly people. New research suggests that cognitive training could be a useful tool for preventing mental decline due to old age.
Estimates project that by the year 2050, the global population over the age of 65 will have grown to nearly 1.1. billion. Of these older adults, an estimated 37 million will suffer from dementia. For anyone who has ever had a loved one suffer from Alzheimer's or some other type of age-related dementia, these are scary statistics.
Previous research has shown that cognitive training such as learning a new craft and completing puzzles can help slow the progress of dementia as people grow older. New research published in the journal BMC Medicine has found that such training can also be beneficial to healthy older adults as well.
In the study, participants between the ages of 65 and 75 took part in two hour-long cognitive training sessions each week for 12 weeks. These sessions involved activities designed to address memory, problem-solving, exercise, health education, reasoning, and map-reading. Participants were also given homework to complete outside of the training sessions.
The results revealed that this cognitive training was able to improve language, hand-eye coordination, memory, and reasoning among healthy adults. "Compared to the control group, who received no training, both levels of cognitive training improved mental ability, although the multifaceted training had more of a long term effect," explained the lead authors Chunbo Li and Wenyuan Wu. "The more detailed training also improved memory, even when measured a year later and booster training had an additional improvement on mental ability scores."
Cheng, Y., Wu, W., Feng, W., Wang, J., Chen, Y., Shen, Y., Li, Q., Zhang, X., & Li, C. The effects of multi-domain versus single-domain cognitive training in non-demented older people: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Medicine, 2012; 10 (1): 30 DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-10-30
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