Recent Study Shows Mild Cognitive Impairment May Be Counteracted With Exercise

mild-cognitive-impairment

A recent study has found that mild cognitive impairment (MCI), the earliest known stage of Alzheimer’s Disease, may be counteracted with exercise. The findings of the study offer hope to the millions of seniors who suffer from this common ailment.

In the study, older adults who participated in a moderate exercise program were able to increase the thickness of their brain’s cortex. The cortex is the part of the brain that usually atrophies with Alzheimer’s disease. Both healthy, older adults and those already diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment showed improvement.

“Exercise may help to reverse neurodegeneration and the trend of brain shrinkage that we see in those with MCI and Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor of kinesiology and senior author of the study, published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society on Nov. 19, 2015. “Many people think it is too late to intervene with exercise once a person shows symptoms of memory loss, but our data suggest that exercise may have a benefit in this early stage of cognitive decline.” (emphasis added)

The participants in the study were aged 61-88 and were previously physically inactive. The exercise included walking on a treadmill four times a week. Over the course of the twelve-week study, the average improvement of cardiorespiratory fitness was 8%, regardless of whether the patient was healthy or showed initial stages of mild cognitive impairment. When it came to improving the cortical layer of the brain, those with MCI showed the greatest improvement over those who were already healthy, with significant improvement of memory recall.

This study was the first of its kind correlating exercise and the cortical thickness of the brain. Future, longer-term studies are planned to see the effects of exercise over time and also to see if those effects are long-lasting. The question is whether moderate exercise can delay cognitive decline and keep people out of nursing homes or help them to maintain independence longer.

If you or a loved one suffers from mild cognitive impairment, but are capable of regular physical activity, try incorporating more and more activity into your/their weekly routine (with the approval of your/their physician). With this study, we now know that exercise isn’t just great for your body, but also your mind.

In addition to any of your personal care needs, our David York Agency aides will be able to escort you or your loved one to appropriate exercise classes if that is difficult for you to get to alone. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Your Loved One

As we age, it is common, and even normal, for us to lose some of our mental agility. However, it is important to know the difference between normal aging and more serious signs of cognitive deterioration. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a problem that faces many aging adults, yet is often overlooked as just another part of getting old. This is largely due to the fact that MCI’s effects are less noticeable than Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, MCI can still have an impact on the quality of life of your loved one and puts them at a higher risk of developing a more serious cognitive disorder down the road. Maybe your loved one has been diagnosed, but you’re unsure about what you can do to help them. You may be wondering exactly what MCI is, what it’s treatments are, and what steps you can take to ensure the continued health and safety of your aging loved one.

What is MCI?

MCiMild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is defined by the Alzheimer’s Association as a condition which “causes a slight but noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and thinking skills.” This condition causes cognitive changes. However, these changes are not serious enough to interfere with daily life, and therefore, these changes do not meet the diagnostic requirements for dementia. It is important to note that a person with MCI is at an increased risk for developing some form of dementia. However, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, some with MCI do not get worse and could even improve their condition.

There are two types of MCI.

  • Amnestic MCI is classified as primarily affecting memory. A person with this type of MCI would begin to forget things like appointments, recent events, and phone numbers or addresses.
  • Nonamnestic MCI is classified as primarily affecting thinking skills including the ability to make sound decisions, completing multi-step tasks, and visual perception.

Mild Cognitive Impairment is a clinical diagnosis determined after a full medical evaluation has been completed, although there are no standard tests or procedures for this diagnosis. The diagnosis would be based on the doctor’s professional judgement about the person’s symptoms and medical history.

It is not yet clear what the causes of MCI are, although it is believed to be caused by changes in the brain — similar to the early stages of dementia.

How can MCI be treated?

There are currently no medications approved by the FDA to treat MCI. However, if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with MCI or is exhibiting some or all of the symptoms, there are some positive steps that can be taken to improve the condition and the quality of life of the individual.

  • Perform regular exercise to improve circulation and promote nourishment of the brain.
  • Manage cardiovascular risk factors such as diet and lifestyle choices (alcohol intake, sleep schedule, stress levels, etc.).
  • Participate in mentally and socially stimulating activities such as board games, puzzles, reading, and conversing with friends and family

What can I do?

Helping a loved one with MCI can be as simple as visiting with them and playing a game of cards, taking them out for a walk around the neighborhood, or driving them to a social outing with friends. You should also encourage your loved one to eat a heart-healthy diet that is low in fats and rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish).

If you believe that your loved one would benefit from these activities, but you or other family members aren’t able to assist them (due to work schedules or geographical constraints), you may want to consider employing a compassionate caregiver to assist them part or full-time. A home healthcare professional can provide help completing day-to-day chores around the house, assist with personal hygiene, transport your loved one to appointments or social engagements, or simply keep them company throughout the day.

At the David York Agency, we offer highly-personalized home health care services to assist you and your family with the care of an aging loved one. Our experienced healthcare professionals are highly-trained and capable of giving your loved one the care and attention they need to lead a happy and healthy life. Many of the families we serve come to see our providers as family members, as they quickly become integrated into the everyday lives of the household.

For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to help you and your loved ones. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. For any additional questions about home health care options for your loved one, please contact us.