Nonpharmacological cognitive interventions in aging and dementia

Author(s): Acevedo A, Loewenstein DA


There have been increasing efforts to develop cognitive interventions to ameliorate cognitive problems experienced by older adults. In healthy elderly populations, cognitive training has centered on the enhancement of memory and speed of processing, with the goal of maximizing current function and reducing the risk of cognitive decline. Among elderly persons with nonprogressive neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke, there has been an emphasis on rehabilitation to help restore function. Most recently, there has been increased attention on the development of new cognitive techniques to treat persons with progressive neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer disease. The literature is reviewed on current approaches to cognitive interventions in elderly healthy populations, and a particular emphasis is placed on the most recent strides in progressive neurocognitive conditions, particularly Alzheimer disease. Important issues such as study design, the use of ecologically and functionally valid outcome measures, the need to examine heterogeneous populations and cross-cultural variables, and the incorporation of technologically based systems are examined. It is concluded that cognitive interventions in the elderly show considerable promise and deserve further study.

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