Could Carlsbad residents with dementia see improvement in their condition by using an app for iPhones or iPads? According to a recent article in U-T San Diego, “a brain training game played on an iPad improves memory for those in the earliest stages of dementia.” The article cites a recent study conducted by scientists in Britain and published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. Many nursing home residents in Southern California who become victims of nursing home abuse also suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Could apps help to reduce some of the risks for elder abuse and neglect by improving conditions for dementia patients?
Study Addresses Episodic Memory
The study’s findings are particularly important in terms of episodic memory, which “is used to remember thing important for the day, but which can be forgotten after that.” For instance, a person might remember where she put her car keys or where she parked her car. The study introduced the memory exercise game app to 21 different people who have been diagnosed with amnestic mild cognitive impairment, in addition to 21 other individuals for control. This condition, amnestic mild cognitive impairment, often is “considered a transitional stage to actual dementia.” When a person has this condition, they experience “lapses of memory greater than typical with normal aging.”
The individuals in the study used the app in one-hour sessions, eight different times, over the course of four weeks. The authors of the study reported that, of those participants suffering from amnestic mild cognitive impairment, playing the game resulted in them making about 33% fewer errors on episodic memory tests.
Need for Additional Research on Memory Exercise Training
The article emphasizes that this study certainly is not the first to link brain training to cognitive improvement. Researchers have long concluded that “building up cognitive reserve” can provide “a margin of safety that allows the brain to compensate for gradual deterioration of abilities.” What this new study does is that it shows there may be some ways to help improve cognitive abilities at the early stages of dementia. Given that there are no drugs available to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, scientists and physicians need to consider other ways to strengthen the brain and its memory capacities.
The study also shows that memory game apps might be able to do something that previous brain-training exercises could not: motivate people with amnestic mild cognitive impairment to engage in the exercises. When someone is affected by a mild cognitive impairment, they often lack motivation to engage in brain training. However, the new app could have more promise in terms of attracting sustained interest. It has a television game show format that may be able to keep people with mild cognitive impairment coming back to continue playing. In turn, those individuals may be able to improve episodic memory and to delay the onset of more severe symptoms of dementia.
According to the study’s authors, at the very least, their research proves that there is a need for additional research on this topic.
Contact a Carlsbad Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Are you concerned about an elderly loved one’s safety in a nursing home or assisted living facility? An elder abuse lawyer in Carlsbad can answer your questions today. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about how we can help with your case.
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(image courtesy of Toni Hukkanen)