A study conducted by researchers at the University of California — San Francisco (UCSF) reveals that personalized health and lifestyle changes could potentially delay and prevent memory loss in individuals at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study aimed to examine the impact of a personalized approach to reducing lifestyle risk factors on cognition.
The study involved 172 participants aged 70 to 89, all of whom exhibited at least two of eight dementia risk factors at the beginning of the two-year study. Half of the participants received personalized coaching from a nurse and health coach, allowing them to select specific risk factors they wanted assistance with. Coaching sessions occurred every few months, transitioning from in-person to telephone during the COVID-19 pandemic. The remaining participants received general educational materials on dementia risk reduction every three months.
After the two-year period, the researchers observed significant improvements in cognitive testing among the participants who received personalized coaching. These individuals demonstrated a 74% increase in cognitive test scores, a 145% improvement in risk factors, and an 8% enhancement in quality of life.
Lead investigator Dr. Kristine Yaffe expressed enthusiasm about the study’s results, emphasizing that a personalized approach to reducing modifiable risk factors can enhance cognition and prevent decline, potentially leading to a decrease in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Geropsychology and neuropsychology fellow Dr. Shannel Kassis Elhelou highlighted the promising nature of the findings, suggesting that personalized health and lifestyle interventions can positively impact cognitive functioning in older adults at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease. She also noted that these findings present new opportunities for non-pharmacological approaches and that healthcare providers may consider adopting a personalized approach when discussing health and lifestyle interventions with at-risk patients.
However, Dr. Elhelou believes that further research is necessary to explore the efficacy of non-pharmacological approaches like cognitive training and stress management. Larger, long-term studies are needed to validate the benefits of personalized interventions in delaying or preventing cognitive decline among individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
In summary, the study conducted by UCSF researchers indicates that a personalized health and lifestyle approach could effectively delay and prevent memory loss in individuals at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease. By addressing specific risk factors and tailoring interventions to individual needs, cognition and quality of life can be improved. These findings have the potential to shape future discussions between healthcare providers and patients, underscoring the importance of personalized approaches and non-pharmacological interventions in the prevention and management of Alzheimer’s disease.