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Elders with Dementia Can Tap Into Memory Stores to Give Advice

the researchers wrote. 'They were eager to dispense useful information, which suggests that there may be social benefits to their information-giving role assignment. Moreover, asking for advice may have contributed to conversations that were more to the point than those seen in the social conversation situation.'

The researchers also conducted a second study to explore whether adults with dementia had retained the ability to serve in a teaching role. For this study, six adults with dementia and six without dementia, all in their 70s or 80s, were given a booklet of pictures to guide them in teaching someone a simple recipe, such as how to make banana pudding or decorate a gingerbread man. Both the cognitively intact older adults and those with dementia successfully taught students to prepare the recipes.

Dijkstra said she was surprised that there was so little difference in the teaching abilities of the healthy adults and those with dementia, although she noted that those with dementia needed more prompting than the others to finish the task.

The researchers theorized that adults with dementia were successful giving advice and teaching a cooking lesson because they were able to tap into knowledge that was accumulated when they were younger and needed these skills as parents or mentors. This type of knowledge does not decline as much as memory of recent events, she said.

'The fact that another person needs information from them also places adults with dementia in a position of empowerment, which makes them more motivated and possibly more goal oriented to finish such a task,' she said.

Caregivers and family members may want to try seeking advice from elders or encouraging them to take a leadership role in certain activities, Dijkstra said.

'This will put the focus on what they are still able to do instead of what they are no longer able to do,' she said. 'Awareness of these preserved abilities ma
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