Alzheimer's DementiaElderly

Training the elderly to maintain their reasoning ability

A large-scale study of elderly people reports that training to improve reasoning results in less functional decline in activities of daily living over 5 years of follow-up.

Here are the details from the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study.

  • More than 2800 volunteers were divided into 4 groups for memory, reasoning, or speed of processing training, or no training.
  • All participants were living independently with good functional and cognitive status (eg, perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning).
  • There were 10 training sessions initially, plus 4 “booster” sessions at 11 and 35 months.
  • Only the group that got reasoning training showed significantly less functional decline in activities of daily living (based on each volunteer’s assessment) compared to the group that got no training.
  • The other groups did better than the control group, although the differences weren’t significant.

Declining cognitive ability increases the risk for a loss of independence. It’s possible that a structured program that maintains reasoning skills like the one used here might allow the elderly to remain independent longer? Future studies will answer this question.

12/20/06 22:38 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.