Cognitive Benefits of Small Groups with Dementia

Many studies have been conducted recently through The Cochrane Collaboration under the discussion topic of the benefits of group activities and their ability to improve the mental function in mild to moderate cases of dementia.

British researchers examined data from 15 studies with 718 people, all of whom had been diagnosed with dementia with categories that included Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia or mixed Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. These people were then introduced to structured activities and group activities that included playing show-and-tell with various objects, baking, drawing and other types of games. All of these activities provided general stimulation for thinking, concentration and memory, all which were conducted in a social setting such as a small group. Each of these sessions were then hosted five times a week and lasted between 30 to 90 minutes.

According to their analysis, structured group activities that are designed to stimulate cognition have shown to be effective. They have indicated that positive changes in communication and social interaction were evident along with improvements of mental functions with participants who suffered mild to moderate dementia. The most striking findings of all were the effects of cognitive stimulation and the overall performance on tests related to cognitive function.

The overall results stated that these programs have been shown to slow down the rate of decline in mild to moderate cases, and identified a benefit on quality of life and well-being that were all associated with cognitive stimulation.  All of these findings were related to an assessment that was completed immediately after the treatment period that evaluated their mental functioning.

“This is showing the people who work in memory care communities and nursing homes and assisted living facilities that they can improve cognitive function, and they need to be providing these kinds of interventions,” neuroscientist Robert Winningham, Ph.D., told Reuters.

The previous information was found in a study that was published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.