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Helping People Age with Dignity

Could exercise help with slowing cognitive impairment’s progress?

We all know that exercise can have physical health benefits, including for the elderly. But might exercise also be able to help with mental health issues for seniors, like cognitive decline? A recent study suggests it very well might.

The study had 70 participants. They were around the age of 74 and they all had vascular cognitive impairment. This type of impairment is one of the causes of dementia. The impairments the participants had were mild in form.

These individuals were tested on various aspects of cognitive function. Some of the participants were then put on an aerobic exercise regime for six months. The regime involved walking outside three times per week. The other participants were just put on their usual care over this period. After the six months concluded, the cognitive function of the participants was tested again.

The researchers found that the individuals who did the exercise regime showed improvement when it comes to memory as compared to the individuals who just had their usual care. The researchers found that this difference had disappeared though by six months after the study’s end, indicating that exercise has to be ongoing for its apparent memory benefits to continue.

One wonders if future studies on this topic will also find exercise to have potential memory benefits for seniors with cognitive impairments.

Cognitive decline and dementia can have major impacts on the elderly, so research that provides insights into what things might be able to help seniors with such conditions can be quite important.

Given the major impacts it can have, cognitive decline is something many elderly individuals might have a great deal of fear about. Among the things they might be afraid of is the loss of control that can go along with such a decline. It is important for seniors to know that there are advanced planning steps that could to allow them to maintain control over what happens with critical health and financial matters if cognitive decline makes it so they can no longer make decisions on these matters on their own. Estate planning devices like health care directives, power of attorney documents and trusts can allow a person to set up a road map regarding how financial and health care matters will be handled and who will handle them in such an event.

Source: Time, “Exercise Helps Slow Down Memory Decline,” Mandy Oaklander, Oct. 19, 2016

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