Is it possible to reverse or prevent dementia by using brain games and cognitive training? Many assisted living residents, and their loved ones hope that is the case.
The ACTIVE Study
There have been studies and trials to test the effect of brain games in Alzheimer’s patients, such as Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE), a 10-year government-funded research trial of 2,800 adults, age 65 and older.
The participants were split into four groups. Three of the groups were actively involved in reasoning, memory and brain games, and were tested on the speed of processing information. One of the control groups did not participate in any of the cognitive training. Those who participated in the cognitive training reported more improvement in performing regular daily activities, such as managing money or doing homework, than those who did not.
Although the results were overwhelmingly positive, Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer’s Association said that more research would need to be done to understand the benefits of cognitive training and brain games in delaying or preventing dementia. However, she also stated that cognitive training and brain games could be one of the many ways to prevent dementia.
Another study shows that exercise has been shown to help prevent dementia in people with mild cognitive impairment and that participants who undergo a weight training program found that some areas of the brain grew as people’s strength increased.
Holding on to your reasoning skills and keeping your mind sharp may be as simple as a daily walk and a good book, along with some social activities such as card games. Research has proven that those who burned more than 3,000 calories per week burned 5% more gray matter than their inactive friends. The reason for this is that exercise increases blood flow, which causes oxygen and glucose to be delivered to the brain, while also reducing the build-up of plaque.
More research is needed to find out definitively whether brain games can prevent dementia. But all experts agree that good nutrition, exercise, and relaxation techniques, as well as participating in cognitive training, are helpful in preventing and possibly reversing the signs of dementia. The main idea is to stay active and challenge yourself constantly, both physically and mentally. When people keep their minds active, their reasoning skills are less likely to decline.