Cognitive Stimulation Helps Improve Memory in Older Adults


After the age of 75, a decline in higher mental functions begins.

A healthy lifestyle in terms of nutrition, psychology, physicality, work and recreation will allow a person to reach old age with a better quality of life, according to several specialists who explain about the emotional and psychological changes that they begin to be noticed when you advance to this stage of life.

Hypatia Mendoza, clinical psychologist and family therapist at the University Hospital, points out that the aging process, speaking of mental health, will depend from person to person, but there is a standard that establishes that after the age of 75, a decline in functions begins higher mental as known in the field of psychology and which are concentration, memory, reasoning and thinking.

“They are higher mental functions than after that age or sometimes before, depending on the state of health and the level of life that that person has led, they will be affected,” he adds.

For example, he points out, a person who has consumed alcohol, tobacco, drugs or some other mental illness with compromises of the brain or the central nervous system will evidently have a faster cognitive deterioration or a deterioration of higher mental functions versus a person who he has had a healthy lifestyle, without addictions, so his brain aging will be progressively slow.

He says that whatever the origin of mental and neurological pathologies is, it must be evaluated by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist to see to what degree it has a cognitive impairment in the autonomy of their activities of daily life.

The specialist points out that recent memory disorders are not exclusive to older adults, but regardless of age there are treatments such as neuropsychology.

He points out that neurocognitive rehabilitation is complementary because generally the basic treatment is that given by the neurologist, with the psychiatrist or with the geriatrician, depending on the pathology.

Cognitive therapies can delay memory decline in older adults. Photo: Álex Vanegas

Gabriela Altamirano, head of the Geriatrics Service of the Luis Vernaza hospital, says that within a geriatric assessment knowing how the cognitive part of the elderly is very important and it is helped through cognitive therapy, which consists of exercises so that they can improve your memory.

But, he emphasizes, it is not simply about reading the newspaper or doing a crossword or a soduku, but rather they are different types of exercises that value a part of the brain.

He mentions, for example, attention exercises that consist of showing the patient an image so that he can observe it well and then withdraw it, he is given a sheet to describe what he saw. While the association exercises consist of showing him a series of words so that he identifies which one it corresponds to.

This will help them improve their memory and can be done at home or with a support group, he says.

At the Efrén Jurado López day hospital of the IESS in Guayaquil, several recreational activities are offered to the elderly, such as neuro-psycho-stimulation to keep the mind active.