A team of researchers from Scandinavia conducted a study, titled, “The Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER): Study design and progress,” now published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia – the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. It evidenced physical activity, cognitive training, nutritional guidance, socializing and other factors seem to improve overall cognitive performance in seniors that are at risk for developing cognitive impairment, such as in Alzheimer’s disease. The scientific paper’s results support the mission the Living Well Residence in Bristol, Vermont has held since its foundation, 10 years ago. Dee Deluca, the Executive Director of Living Well, applauded this research project.
“This is something that we, at Living Well, have known and been practicing for 10 years,” explained Dee Deluca in a press release. Mr. Deluca, also oversees the Ethan Allen Residence in Burlington, Vermont and explained that “By eating whole foods, living in a social environment and keeping the mind alive through music, art, gardening and other endeavors, it improves quality of life and even quality of health. We feel the results of this study validate something that we’ve been saying—and putting into practice—for a decade.”
Estimates say that about 5 million Americans 65 years or older have Alzheimer’s disease. This is an irreversible and progressive cognitive disease that affects memory, cognitive skills, and, ultimately, it affects functioning. For every five year interval after 65 years old, the risk for the disease increases, and the number of people suffering with the condition doubles, according to data from the National Institute on Aging.
Presented in Copenhagen, Denmark at the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, the FINGER Study combines a two-year clinical trial in Finland that enrolled 1,260 adults aged 60 to 77 years old, deemed at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The participants were divided among two cohorts: an intervention and a control group. The intervention group were engaged in physical exercise, nutritional guidance, management of heart health risk factors, cognitive training and social activities, while the control group received health advice. After 24 months, the intervention group performed better memory tests, showed improved ability to plan and solve problems, and displayed faster cognitive processing.
Miia Kivipelto, from the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden and the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland, added in a press release: “This is the first randomized control trial showing that it is possible to prevent cognitive decline using a multi-domain intervention among older at-risk individuals. These results highlight the value of addressing multiple risk factors in improving performance in several cognitive domains.”
The Living Well Residence has daily farm-to-table meals, readily-available physicians, and a natural, family setting, which makes it easier to build relationships and to socialize. Deluca believes that this will be a growing approach to maintaining cognitive health in the future.