What is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term (not a specific disease) that describes a group of symptoms which negatively impacts memory severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia with 60-80% of cases, while Vascular Dementia is the second most common dementia type. Nevertheless, there are many other conditions that cause symptoms of dementia. As opposed to Alzheimer’s, some forms of dementia are reversible.
MindMate is a research-based platform!
MindMate was built with the FINGER study in mind and our passion to create a tool that makes a real difference at the heart. But why did we choose the FINGER study as the foundation for MindMate?
What is the FINGER study?
The FINGER study was a randomized controlled trial which showed that multi-part lifestyle intervention could improve cognitive scores and, by inference, curtail the future risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The multi-part lifestyle interventions included brain games, healthy nutrition, regular physical exercise and frequent social interaction.
MindMate offers the first all-in-one solution.
The MindMate app stimulates brain activity, offers advice on correct nutrition & physical exercise and makes it easy to stay connected with your social environment. Furthermore, we provide our users with a wide range of engagement tools, including a jukebox feature and a television section. These tools are designed to engage people living with dementia and equip carers with convenient tools to deliver real person-centered care.
A more detailed explanation of the various other research papers can be found below. If you are interested in a research collaboration, more information can be found here.
Can doing crossword puzzles or discussing current events help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease? A review of the scientific research shows that puzzles, games and other mentally challenging tasks may indeed be beneficial for people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.
The report comes from the Cochrane Library, a scientific review board in the United Kingdom. While other studies have suggested that mentally challenging games and puzzles may help to ward off Alzheimer’s, the Cochrane collaboration is considered particularly scientifically rigorous and looks at people who already have the disease.
Scientists analysed 15 studies to date involving 718 men and women with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
They encompassed a wide range of enjoyable activities aimed at stimulating thinking and memory, including word games and puzzles. Music and practical activities like baking or indoor gardening were also among the activities considered to be cognitively stimulating.
The researchers found that mental stimulation improved scores on memory and thinking tests for those with dementia, equivalent to about a six to nine month delay in worsening of symptoms. Some of the studies also found that those with dementia who engaged in such activities had increased feelings of well-being and a better quality of life, including improved communication and interactions with those around them.
Source: Bob Woods, Elisa Aguirre, Aimee E. Spector, Martin Orrell: “Cognitive Stimulation to Improve Cognitive Functioning in People with Dementia.” Cochrane Library, Feb. 15, 2012, published online DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005562.pub2
A new study, from researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, adds to a growing body of evidence that what we eat can have long term effects on our brain.
Previous research from the group had shown that eating certain foods, many of which have long been promoted for heart health, may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In the latest study, the researchers found that the brain-healthy diet, which they call the MIND diet, may slow age-related cognitive decline in healthy seniors by an average of 7.5 years.
For the study, the researchers looked at 960 elderly adults, average age 81, from the Rush Memory and Aging Project (an ongoing study of seniors living in more than 40 retirement communities and senior housing in the Chicago area). All the study participants completed detailed dietary questionnaires and underwent yearly checkups and testing on memory and thinking skills. They were followed, on average, for 4.7 years.
Participants of the study were ranked according to how closely they adhered to the MIND diet. “The MIND diet modifies the Mediterranean and DASH diets to highlight the foods and nutrients shown through the scientific literature to be associated with dementia prevention,” explained Martha Clare Morris, the study leader and a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush.
A Mediterranean-style diet, rich in whole grains, vegetables, fish and healthy fats like olive oil, along with moderate amounts of wine, has been shown in many studies to be good for the heart, as well as the brain. The DASH diet (for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) calls for a mix of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and limited salt to keep blood pressure in check.
To maximize the possible brain-boosting benefits of the MIND diet, someone would need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a salad or green leafy vegetables and at least one other vegetable, along with a glass of wine, daily. Beans should be eaten every other day, chicken and berries at least twice a week, and fish at least once a week. The diet also includes daily snacks such as moderate amounts of nuts.
Foods to avoid include butter and margarine (less than a tablespoon a day), and cheese, fried or fast food, and sweets and pastries should not be eaten more than once per week.
The researchers found that seniors who followed the MIND diet most closely scored much higher on tests of memory and thinking skills compared to those who did not eat these kinds of foods. They were, on average, the equivalent of 7.5 years younger in terms of “brain health.”
Physical activity can dramatically cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in old age, according to a new report. The study found that whether older people swam, jogged, gardened or danced, parts of the brain that were critical for memory and thinking remained more robust than their sedentary peers. The findings add to a growing body of evidence that exercise is good for the brain and may help to ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in old age.
For the study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and UCLA analyzed data from 876 men and women over 65 who were part of a large, multi-year nationwide study of seniors and heart health. All were given regular MRI brain scans and tests of memory and thinking skills to look for signs of dementia. They also completed weekly questionnaires about how often they engaged in physical activities like walking, jogging, playing tennis or golf, riding a stationary cycle at the gym, or gardening.
The researchers found that those who expended the most calories – whatever their activity of choice – had the most robust brain volume in parts of the brain critical for memory and thinking. Those who were most active had larger brain volumes in key areas on initial brain scans and were half as likely to have developed Alzheimer’s disease five years later.
The investigators also found that physical activity appeared to protect the brains of those presenting with mild cognitive impairment, a form of memory loss that often precedes Alzheimer’s. Those with Alzheimer’s or memory problems who exercised the most had greater brain volume than their peers who got little or no exercise
The lead scholar noted that brain volumes increased if people became more active over five years leading up to their brain MRI. This is really important, and shows that it is never too late to go back to having some level of physical activity. In the future, it might be useful for doctors to prescribe exercise regimens for people who are at risk of dementia to help prevent further memory deterioration. Rather than wait for memory loss, we might consider putting the patient on an exercise program.
This is the first study in which researchers have been able to correlate the predictive benefit of different kinds of physical activity with the reduction of Alzheimer’s risk through specific relationships with better brain volume in such a large sample.
Source: Raji, Cyrus A.; Merrill, David; Eyre, Harris; et al: “Longitudinal Relationships between Caloric Expenditure and Gray Matter in the Cardiovascular Health Study.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, March 11, 2016
Researchers have studied the effects of reminiscence therapy on older adults who suffer from dementia. In particular, studies have focused on two primary benefits of reminiscence therapy for elderly people with dementia: Improved cognitive function and an improvement in quality of life.
A 2007 study investigated the effects of reminiscence therapy on both cognitive and affective function in 102 individuals living with dementia. The study used established scales to determine the effect of reminiscence treatment using a pre and post-test self-report design. For cognitive function, the study used the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). For affective function the researchers used the Geriatric Depression Scale short form (GDS-SF) to determine the perception of the individual on their state of well-being and the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia (CSDD) to analyze how their caregivers percieved the patient’s emotional condition.
The randomized study found significant improvements in both the MMSE and CSDD scores following the test, which is an encouraging sign that reminiscence therapy has a positive effect in helping both cognitive and emotional functions for the elderly living with dementia. One concern raised about reminiscence therapy regards whether the improvements seen are due to the actual type of therapy being used (reminiscing about certain subjects) or merely if the increase social interactions with peers causes the progress in cognition and overall mood.
A study in 2008 examined this, using an experimental group treated with reminiscence therapy and a control group where they also had group conversations about every-day subjects. MMSE was used to determine the level of dementia prior to the study, and as in the 2007 study, examined the cognitive and affective effect of both the reminiscence and conversation therapies on the two groups. For cognition the groups were given a four-item verbal fluency test. When evaluating the participants’ mood, quality of daily life, and interest in the treatment, the study used the Todai-shiki Observational Rating Scale (TORS), and for self-report on their overall happiness, the participants took the Saint Marianna Hospital’s Elderly Dementia Patients’ Daycare Evaluation Table.
The results in cognition agreed with the 2007 study, with the reminiscence group recalling more words pre to post test. The control conversation group, however, saw a decrease in words recalled from pre to post test, supporting the argument that it is the type of reminiscence therapy used which causes the positive cognitive effect, not merely a typical conversation with peers. Finally, the study also showed improvements in both TORS and the Daycare Evaluation Table scores for the reminiscence group over the control, meaning the participants were happier, had improved quality of daily life, and were more attentive to treatment compared to pre-treatment and versus control group results.
One study looked at reminiscence therapy for people with two types of dementia: Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Those with Alzheimer's disease experienced significantly less ‘withdrawal’ (they withdrew less and interacted with others more) when compared with the control group immediately after intervention. Participants suffering from vascular dementia showed significantly less withdrawal and improved cognitive function compared with the control immediately after intervention and after a 6 month follow up. Sustained intervention may be required to maintain these effects over time, especially in elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease whose improvement in withdrawal was no longer seen after 6 months.
One study that explored the effects of reminiscence therapy on those diagnosed with dementia found that the participants who received reminiscence therapy experienced significantly higher well-being than participants who had been in either the goal-directed group activity or unstructured free time. A case-study of an 88-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer's disease showed that he experienced improved cognitive functioning after individual reminiscence therapy.