Brain exercises can help older adults

5:19 PM, Jan 13, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA - It's predicted the number of people with Alzheimer's Disease will nearly triple in the coming decades. Now, there may be a way to detect some forms of dementia earlier and boost the brain power seniors still have.

A four-page questionnaire may be able to alleviate some of the fears of the aging population or signal early the subtle signs of dementia.

"We need to catch these people much earlier," Dr. Douglas Scharre, neurologist with Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, said.

Dr. Scharre and colleagues at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center developed a free, online test that measures brain functions like orientation, language, reasoning, problem solving and memory.

In their study of more than 1,000 older adults, nearly 30 percent showed signs of early memory problems they didn't know they had.

If a problem is found early enough, some treatments might be able to slow the progression of memory loss.

"If you do take this test, you need to take it to your physician. It's not a diagnostic test for any particular condition. It just says - hey maybe my thinking is not as good as it used to be," Dr. Scharre said.

New evidence from Johns Hopkins shows brain exercises can improve reasoning skills and processing speed.

"The mind can stave off cognitive decline as we get older by keeping active, keeping mentally and physically and socially engaged," Dr. George Rebok with Johns Hopkins University said.

Researchers studied nearly 3,000 older adults with normal memory. Those who went through a series of brain training had less cognitive decline than a control group a decade later.

They also had an easier time managing their finances, medications and performing daily activities.

You can learn more about the online cognition test from Ohio State here: http://bit.ly/1cWqCIe.

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