Early Stage Memory Training for Dementia
Memory Training Research
Simple, systematic memory training may help people in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers studied 12 participants with an average age of 71 who were diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's disease at the minimal or mild stage.
In the very early stages of Alzheimer's people still have the capacity to learn, so researchers trained participants to remember the names of people, whom they had difficulty naming, from a set of 12 photographs; these photographs included people in their social network as well as famous people.
The memory methods used included:
Participants in the study learned face-name association at the rate of one per week, adding each new pair to their practice until they worked at all six pairs. Memory training produced a statistically significant improvement in group performance. Some (not all) participants kept their memory gains six months after training and scores remained above the initial assessment levels after 12 months, even without further practice.
These results point to the need for early diagnosis within Alzheimer's. Moreover, the methods are so straight forward they could be applied by anyone in the family, or friends, or volunteers. The researchers point out that a significant issue might be the fact that people who were more aware of their memory problems were more likely to respond well to memory training. So, whilst this may be a useful marker it still means further work is required to establish who might benefit the most be most from this intervention.