Dementia: How to prevent cognitive decline

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Physical activity, nutrition and cognitively stimulating activities are all known to be good ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

And older adults at risk can access a variety of lifestyle services to that end, including diet regimes and exercises for their body and mind.

In a new study from Université de Montréal, researchers have determined how many of those intervention sessions are needed to prevent cognitive decline in people at risk: only about a dozen.

They found that 12 to 14 sessions are all that’s were needed to observe an improvement in cognition. Until now, the number of sessions or “doses” needed for optimal effect has been unknown.

The study is based on an analysis of data from the three-year Multidomain Alzheimer Preventive Trial (MAPT) and looked at 749 participants who received a range of interventions aimed at preventing cognitive decline.

These included dietary advice, physical activity and cognitive stimulation to improve or maintain physical and cognitive abilities.

In their study, the researchers evaluated the effects of the sessions in terms of each participant’s age, gender, education level, and cognitive and physical condition.

The main results showed an increase with dose followed by a plateau effect after 12 to 14 sessions.

In other words, you need enough dose to see an effect but offering more than 12 to 14 sessions of treatment does not mean better results.

That said, participants with lower levels of education or more risk factors for frailty did benefit from more sessions.

The conclusion? It’s important to identify and target an optimal dose and to customize the treatment for each individual.

Not only is “dosage” an important component of behavioral interventions, but it can also provide valuable information when time and money are limited, helping public-health agencies develop effective prevention programs and offer guidance to older adults and clinicians.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about taller men who have a lower dementia risk, and heartburn drugs that could increase risk of dementia.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about common liver drug that may treat dementia effectively, and results showing that healthy lifestyle can reduce dementia even if you have a family history of the disease.

The study is published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. One author of the study is psychology professor Sylvie Belleville.

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