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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Therapeutic Activities Slow Dementia

By Rick Nauert, Ph.D.
Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
(Psych Central) -- A new study suggests those diagnosed with early stage dementia can slow their physical, mental and psychological decline by taking part in therapeutic programs that combine counseling, support groups, Chinese exercise and meditation. Some of the benefits of this approach are comparable to those achieved with anti-dementia medications.


“Most of the research on dementia and most of the dollars up until this point have gone into pharmacological interventions,” said Sandy Burgener, a professor of nursing at the University of Illinois and lead author on the study.

“But we have evidence now from studies like mine that show that other approaches can make a difference in the way people live and can possibly also impact their cognitive function.”

In the study, 24 people with early stage dementia participated in an intensive 40-week program. The intervention included biweekly sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy and support groups, along with three sessions per week of traditional Chinese martial arts exercises and meditation, called qigong (chee-gong) and Taiji (tye-jee).

A comparison group of people with early stage dementia did not participate in these programs for the first 20 weeks of the intervention.

Researchers are discovering that multidiscliplinary approaches – those that address patients’ physical, mental and psychological dimensions – show the most promise in treating people with dementia, Burgener said.

“There’s a lot of support for multi-modal therapies for persons with dementia, especially those with early stage dementia,” she said.

“Not only can we help people have....read the whole article

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