Forgetfulness among the elderly, which is considered to be an early stage of dementia. can be prevented without medication by just modifying diet plans, and introducing simple exercises and computer-based gaming in daily routine.
Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) is the self-reported experience of worsening or frequent confusion or me mory loss. A pilot randomised controlled trial held at AIIMS for 24 weeks on 60 elderly people over 60 years of age indicated that “multimodal approach” could be an effective intervention in those suffering from Subjective Cognitive Decline, improving their mental abilities including learning, thinking, remembering, decision-making, and attention without medication.
The outcome of the study shows significant improvement, said researchers. The study, which has been accepted by international scientific journal plosone, was conducted by additional professor of department of Geriatric medicine, AIIMS, Dr Prasun Chaterjee.
He said the early stage of dementia, which is called Subjective Cognitive Decline, can’t be diagnosed with basic tests. “If there is no intervention at an early stage, it may progress to either mild cognitive impairment or major neurocognitive disorder (a significant decline in one or more cognitive domains compared to your previous abilities) in three to five years’ duration, and there is no medicine for it,” he said.
Dr Chaterjee said the study was conducted over a period of two years from November 2018 to 2020 but the intervention was done for six months only.
A total of 60 individuals who attended the OPD of the department of Geriatric medicine were included in the study after obtaining their written consent. The protocol was approved by the Institute Ethics Committee of AIIMS and the trial was registered under Clinical Trials Registry India.
“The participants 36.67% females and 63.33% males were allocated into four groups of 15 people each for assigning four different interventions. Group A with cognitive training only, Group B with cognitive training and diet, Group C with cognitive training, diet and exercise, and Group D with health awareness,” said Dr Chaterjee.
Study Finds Interventions Can Help Seniors Fight Forgetfulness
It’s the self-reported experience of worsening, frequent confusion or memory loss
If there is no intervention at an early stage, it may progress to either mild cognitive impairment or major neurocognitive disorder
WHAT IS SUBJECTIVE CONGNITIVE DECLINE
Steps that can help
Modification of diet plans
Introduction of simple exercises
Trial held at AIIMS for six months on 60 elderly people over 60 years of age
About AIIMS’ pilot project
People divided into four groups of 15 people each
Group A with cognitive training only
Group B cognitive training and diet
Group C with cognitive training, diet and exercise
Group D with health awareness
There was significant effect of intervention on attention, concentration and immediate recall in Group C
The mental balance was found to be greatest in Group C (16.7%)
Concluding the study, researchers said there was significant effect of intervention on attention, concentration and immediate recall in Group C, which used multimodal intervention. The mental balance was found to be greatest in this group (16.71%).
Describing each intervention, Dr Chatterji said that to train different areas of cognitive functions (multiple mental abilities), they started at a low level of difficulty and the participants were confronted with more complex tasks at higher levels. There were 29 types of keyboard-based tasks under different cognitive domains, covering attention, memory, visuospatial and executive functioning. This training was done under the guidance of an experienced clinical psychologist.
The diet plan comprised 20% of daily energy from protein, 25% from fat, and 55% from carbohydrate. It had 30-35 grams per day of dietary fibres, less than 5 grams per day of salt, and no alcohol.
A customised exercise module (aerobic and resistive) was developed with the help of experts from multiple departments.
Aerobic exercise started with warm-up for 10 minutes, comprising walking at comfortable speed, followed by 20 minutes of treadmill walk at 40% heart rate in the first month, progressing to 60% for another two months, and 70-80% for the last three months.
Resistance training started with a warm up for 10 minutes, consisting of stretching exercises, followed by exercises for upper and lower extremities and core strengthening.
Participants in the control group were provided with health awareness instructions on brain stimulating activities such as sudoku, mental maths, learning music, computers and new skills.