Can anything really be done to roll back dementia or at least the symptoms of dementia?

By Steve Moran

This is Part 2 of a 2-part interview with Rob Winningham, a professor of Psychology and Gerontology at Western Oregon University with a background in neuroscience. He has been studying memory for more than two decades. About 20 years ago he got interested in studying older adults and their memory with the goal of helping them improve or maintain their memory skills. Part One of this series is titled, I Bet You Didn’t Know This About Increasing Your Resident’s Cognitive Ability. In this post Rob talks about how, if you are a memory care operator, you might save as much as $12,000 per year per resident.

Rolling Back Dementia

I asked if anything could be done to roll back dementia or at least the symptoms of dementia.  

“Possibly not. We might be able to slow it down a little bit depending on how far along they are. If they’re at the mild cognitive impairment stage or the early stage dementia, the prognosis is better.”

Bright Spot

Rob talked about a recent study where Teresa Liu-Ambrose was the lead researcher. It found that when residents with cognitive impairment and early stage dementia were engaged in resistance training (think lifting light weights) for 20 minutes twice a week over the course of a year were actually able to increase executive function (the ability of the brain to make and store new memories).

He also talked about another study that was published in the Journal of The American Medical Association a couple of years ago that physical exercise by memory care residents saved $12,000 per year per resident. They would come into the residents room a couple of times a week and have them lift weights for 20 minutes.

His thinking is that it improved mobility and that because their physical health was better they needed much less staff.

The Rest of The Interview

There is a ton of other really good stuff in our conversation. The interview runs about 18 minutes and is a worthwhile use of your time.

Finally, you might want to check out Rob’s Website, where he has a number of resources that help seniors improve and preserve their memory.