Tests Might Predict Cognitive Impairment

by Lois Etienne on September 13, 2010

in Alzheimer's and Dementia,Senior Health and Safety

Recent research from Rush University Medical Center has shed light on this issue.  Scientists there discovered that lower, though not necessarily impaired, performance on tests measuring story learning predicted subsequent cognitive decline in a normal population.  Other indicators were retention and processing speed in motor tasks dependent on visual control, as well as symptoms of depression.

However, none of the factors alone predicted the onset of mild cognitive impairment a year later.  Rather, poor learning had to be accompanied by either slower body motor processes linked to vision processing speed or depressive symptoms.

Interestingly, researchers also found that neither gender nor the apolipoprotein E genotype, long believed to be risk factors for mild cognitive impairment, had any substantial influence on later impairment.

The 94 individuals who participated in the study underwent a battery of standard cognitive and psychosocial tests to assess mood, attention, visuospatial abilities, language facility, memory and intelligence.

“For a long time, researchers believed that memory alone was the only important factor in mild cognitive impairment,” said Dr. S. Duke Han, assistant professor of neuropsychology in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Rush and lead author on the study.  “Our study is one of the first to suggest the importance of other factors in predicting this possible pre-Alzheimer’s condition.”

Hopefully, you’re not spending your days worrying about dementia.  Instead talk to your doctor about the many ways to keep your mind active.  Physical activity and good nutrition play vital roles.  Human interaction also is important so if you spend long periods of time alone be sure to get out and mingle with others your age.  Or consider hiring a caregiving companion such as a CAREGiverSM from the Home Instead Senior Care® network.  CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured, and have passed thorough background checks.  Also, efforts are made to match CAREGivers with seniors of similar interests.

For additional information about this study, log on to http://www.rush.edu/webapps/MEDREL/servlet/NewsRelease?id=1392.

For more information or to get answers to your questions, please contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office.  We can be reached — anytime day or night – by calling Spokane509.835.5898North King/Snohomish Counties425.670.2292 or South King/Pierce Counties253.943.1603. You can also email us at loisetienne@homeinsteadnw.com

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