Q. My mother has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. What’s the best way to slow her memory decline?
A. Exercising, following specific diets, and engaging in mentally and socially stimulating activities—as well as other strategies—have been proposed as ways to slow down mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which sometimes progresses to Alzheimer’s disease.
A study published in April 2016 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease demonstrates the difficulty of providing a one-size-fits-all answer.
Investigators divided 25 individuals with mild cognitive impairment into two treatment groups. One group participated in weekly 60-minute yoga sessions combined with meditation.
The other group underwent memory enhancement training, which uses verbal and visual association strategies and practical techniques for compensating for memory loss.
At the end of the 12-week trial, both groups had improved memory recall; the yoga group also demonstrated a significant improvement in depression and spatial memory.
While we are waiting for more definitive studies, the evidence shows that activities that people find enjoyable can help boost mood and activity levels. This means you should try to find activities your mother enjoys, whether it is exercise, discussion groups, yoga, or memory enhancement training.
Read more about how mild cognitive impairment may go undiagnosed.
Marian Freedman is a freelance medical editor and writer based in Watchung, NJ. She is a contributing editor to Contemporary Pediatrics, as well as chief editor for MedEdits, a medical education consulting firm.