Dementia risk reduction strategies prove beneficial for enhancing memory performance in older people

In one of the most comprehensive studies to date, researchers have shown that older adults who follow a healthy eating plan and undertake regular exercise and brain-training activities have enhanced memory performance, over those who don’t.

Referred to as the ‘FINGER’ study, it is the first large, long-term, and methodologically robust trial showing that multiple approaches can improve or maintain cognitive functioning and reduce the risk of cognitive decline among older individuals.

The researchers acquired 1260 people from across Finland, aged 60–77 years all who were deemed to be at risk of dementia, based on previous test scores.

Participants were then split into two groups:

  • Intervention group (n=631) – regular meetings over two years with physicians, nurses, and other health professionals, with participants given comprehensive advice on maintaining a healthy diet, exercise programmes including both muscle and cardiovascular training, brain training exercises, and management of metabolic and vascular risk factors through regular blood tests, and other means.
  • Control group (n=629) – received regular health advice only.

The results, published in the Journal Lancet Neurology, found that those who were in the intervention group had improved or maintained cognitive function over time (anywhere from 25-150% better than the control group).

According to Professor Miia Kivipelto, research leader from the Karolinska Institutet,

“Much of the previous research has shown that there are links between cognitive decline in older people and factors such as diet, heart health, and fitness. However, our study is the first large randomised controlled trial to show that an intensive programme aimed at addressing these risk factors might be able to prevent cognitive decline in elderly people who are at risk of dementia.”

Carol Bennett, CEO Alzheimer’s Australia said she is encouraged by the findings and hopes that this will provide further incentive for the Australian Government to fund vital preventive health programs such as Your Brain Matters – saying:

 “These are encouraging results over the two years of the study and we are looking forward to seeing what the results will be over the next 7 year follow up period.”

She went on to say:

“This international research supports the great work we are doing here in Australia with Your Brain Matters. It’s important that the government continues to fund such innovative programs”

Watch a Channel 7 news story highlighting this research.



Click on the link here if the above video clip does not work -

You can find out more about dementia risk reduction strategies at www.yourbrainmatters.org.au





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