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Cognitive training for older people who experience memory problems

Many older people experience memory problems which is commonly known as subjective cognitive decline (SCD). Everyday memory problems include forgetting names, forgetting to take medication, forgetting an appointment, or misplacing an object. It is perfectly normal to forget these kinds of things, we all do at times. As we get older, we may forget things more often which can be due to episodic memory decline which is caused by a number of structural and functional changes in the aging brain1. In addition to biological changes, concerns about cognitive decline play a role in everyday memory performance. Research has shown that normal age-related changes in memory performance can lead to decreased levels of confidence and increased worrying, which in turn exacerbate everyday memory problems2.

Compensatory cognitive training can help people remember things better in everyday life. This kind of training involves teaching cognitive strategies that utilise cognitive functions that are typically well preserved in older adults such as visual and semantic memory3. The training aims at an incorporation of these strategies into daily routines. It is important that a compensatory cognitive training for older adults also includes psychoeducation, which focuses on increasing an individual’s knowledge of their own cognitive functioning as well as general knowledge on cognitive functions and how they are influenced by factors such as aging, lifestyle and mood. This can increase confidence and decrease worrying.

Together with former colleagues at Philips Research, I developed a digital compensatory cognitive training for older adults with SCD. If you are interested in learning more about cognitive training in general and the efficacy of the training that we developed, have a look at our scientific paper:

Klaming, L., Robbemond, L., Lemmens, P., & Hart de Ruijter, E. (2022). Digital compensatory cognitive training for older adults with subjective cognitive decline. Activities, Adaptation & Aging, 47(1), 10-39. 

  1. Bishop, N.A., Lu, T., & Yankees, B.A. (2010). Neural mechanisms of ageing and cognitive decline. Nature, 464(7288), 529-535. ↩︎
  2. Bolla, K. I., Lindgren, K. N., Bonaccorsy, C., & Bleecker, M. L. (1991). Memory complaints in older adults fact or fiction? Archives of Neurology, 48(1), 61-64; Valentijn, S. A. M., van Hooren, S. A. H., Bosma, H., Touw, D. M., Jolles, J., van Boxtel, M. P. J., & Pons, R. W. H. M. (2005). The effect of two types of memory training on subjective and objective memory performance in healthy individuals aged 55 years and older: A randomized controlled trial. Patient Education and Counseling, 57(1), 106-114; West, R. L., Bagwell, D. K., & Dark-Freudeman, A. (2008). Self-efficacy and memory aging: The impact of a memory intervention based on self-efficacy. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 15(3), 302-329. ↩︎
  3. Ally, B.A., Gold, C.A., & Budson, A.E. (2009). The picture superiority effect in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. Neuropsychologia, 47(2), 595–598; Belleville, S., Gilbert, B., Fontaine, F., Gagnon, L., Menard, E., & Gauthier, S. (2006). Improvement of episodic memory in persons with mild cognitive impairment and healthy older adults: Evidence from a cognitive intervention program. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 22(5-6), 486-499. ↩︎