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Problem-focused method of memory care proves effective, researchers say

January 17, 2013

Developing new strategies for treating Alzheimer's has been one of the most important goals of the senior health community, and researchers from Utah State University believe they may have made a breakthrough when it comes to memory care. A recent study has found that coping strategies with a more positive focus, such as improving social support rather than avoidance, could boost cognitive performance.

The research was conducted along with health experts from Johns Hopkins University and looked at more than 220 people who were living with dementia over the course of six years. The team found that problem-focused coping methods were beneficial for both the patients and those who were responsible for their healthy aging.

"Use of this coping strategy may translate into developing a care environment that is tailored to individual patient needs," JoAnn Tschanz, the study's lead author, told The Huffington Post.

There are a number of methods that fall under the umbrella of problem-focused coping strategies, experts say. For instance, memory care providers can develop mentally stimulating activities for their patients or ensure that they received continued follow-up medical attention from their physician. The most important thing is that the care is active, rather than passive.

With approximately 5.4 million Americans currently diagnosed with Alzheimer's, finding effective treatment methods is especially important. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that the number of cases worldwide could triple by 2050 if no cure is found.

While there is no surefire way to prevent Alzheimer's, a number of healthy lifestyle choices have proven to be somewhat effective. According to the Alzheimer's Association, an increased intake of saturated fat and cholesterol is associated with higher risk of developing the condition, while dark-skinned fruits and vegetables can lower one's risk.