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UCLA memory fitness program improves memory abilities of oldest adults
Date:8/29/2011

cognitive decline, so our program included education about healthy living in addition to memory-training techniques," said Small, who is also a professor at the Semel Institute.

Although the UCLA team has offered similar programs in other settings, such as at senior centers and on the UCLA campus, this is one of the first times that such a comprehensive memory program has been designed for and offered in a retirement living community. This made participation easier, since seniors in most cases simply walked down a hallway rather than having to drive to a class off-site.

The study involved 115 seniors at two full-service retirement communities in Maryland that are part of Erickson Living, a leading continuing-care community developer and manager. 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.

Half the participants were enrolled in the memory fitness program and received memory testing before beginning the program and after completion to assess improvement. The other half were placed on a waiting list for the program and acted as study controls.

Miller and Small developed a scripted curriculum for trainers who led the classes, and they provided a companion workbook for participants. Trainers in the study were employees of the Erickson Living retirement communities and had backgrounds in academia and health-related fields.

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. Trainers also discussed the role of a healthy lifestyle in protecting and maintaining memory.

Among the older adults attending the classes, the researchers found marked improve
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Contact: Rachel Champeau
rchampeau@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2270
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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