Friday, 11 Sep, 2009 Health & Fitness

Recalling the War is Good for Health, Researchers Say


Scientists say that encouraging elderly people to talk about the war could be good for their health. It was found that when old people gather in groups and talk about the times when they were young (reminiscence therapy), it helps them limit the effects of dementia and improve their memory.

Researchers say that such therapy may improve the cognitive recall as well as agility of the mind by about 12 percent in 6 weeks. The current study adds more evidence to earlier researches that found that communication within a social environment is good for health.

People who suffered strokes and heart attacks were found to recover much better if they communicated with their friends and family. In previous studies scientists found that loneliness is as hazardous for human health as obesity and smoking.

During their current study, the team of researchers, led by Professor Catherine Haslam, analyzed 73 study participants aged between 70 and 90. Some of them suffered from dementia. Researchers split people into 3 groups. The team encouraged the first group to come together once a week in sets of five and recall memories from their past. People in the first group were given such discussion topics as childhood, weddings and family holidays. They were also advised to remember some specific objects that could help bring to mind beautiful memories, like for example old-fashioned ink pots and hats.

At the end of a six-week study, researchers estimated the memory of the participants by using standard cognitive tests. They discovered that the memory of people from the first group improved by 12 percent. In addition, people suffering from dementia registered an eight-percent improvement, reports Times Online.

Very little improved has been registered by the other two groups, one of which was persuaded to play skittles and the other to have one on one conversations. According to Prof Haslam, a neuropsychologist, most of elderly people they have talk to enjoyed recalling the war, which proved to be one of the most important things of their lives. You can find more interesting studies here at - please check the links at the bottom of the story.

"It doesn't actually reverse dementia but it seems to make the most of their residual abilities," he said.

Professor Alex Haslam, her husband, said: "I think talking to a group gives you a reason to live. We have memory so that we can have language so that we can engage in a social life."

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