Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California at Davis in Sacramento, California, investigated if and how meditation might preserve cognition and prevent dementia.
Previous studies have indicated that meditation affects multiple pathways that play a role in brain aging and mental fitness. For example, meditation may reduce stress-induced cortisol secretion and this could have neuro-protective effects by elevating levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Meditation may also potentially have beneficial effects on lipid profiles and lower oxidative stress, either of which could reduce the risk for cerebro-vascular disease and age-related neuro-degeneration.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia systematically reviewed results from clinical trials that examined whether cognitive exercises had any inoculative effect against the onset of dementia.
Fifty-four studies were reviewed to identify randomized controlled trials that tested the effect of a discrete cognitive exercise program on neuropsychological performance over time in healthy older adults.
Researchers at Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle General Hospital in the U.K. conducted a placebo-controlled trial to determine the value of aromatherapy with essential oil of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) for agitation in people with severe dementia. Seventy-two people residing in National Health Service (U.K.) care facilities who had clinically significant agitation associated with severe dementia were randomly assigned to aromatherapy with Melissa essential oil (N = 36) or placebo (sunflower oil) (N = 36).
The active treatment or placebo oil was combined with a base lotion and applied to patients'' faces and arms twice a day by caregiving staff. Changes in clinically significant agitation (Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory [CMAI]) and quality of life indices (percentage of time spent socially withdrawn and percentage of time engaged in constructive activities, measured with Dementia Care Mapping) were compared between the 2 groups over a 4-week period of treatment.