A new study has found that a memory fitness program offered to older adults in their senior living communities helped improve their ability to recognize and recall words, benefitting their verbal learning and retention.
Published in the September issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, the University of California – LA (UCLA) study also found that as a result of the program, seniors' self-perceived memory improved, an important factor in maintaining a positive outlook on life while aging. The average age of participants in the study was 81.
The study involved 115 seniors at two full-service Erickson Living retirement communities in Maryland. Participants lived in the independent level of care in these communities and had memory complaints, but they had not been diagnosed with dementia and were not taking any medications for memory loss.
The one-hour education sessions focused on memory enhancement. They included explanations of how memory works; offered quick strategies for remembering names, faces and numbers; and provided basic memory tools such as linking ideas and creating visual images.
In addition to memory-training techniques the six-week program offered education about lifestyle factors that may impact memory ability and overall brain health. Participants learned stress-reduction exercises and were instructed about the importance of daily physical exercise and maintaining a healthy diet rich in antioxidants.