Earlier this year, researchers published a study which looked at eight volunteer senior elder law women who worked with elementary school age children. The eight women were chosen because they were at a higher risk for developing cognitive declines. With an average age of 67, the women came from low income and low education backgrounds, and had scored low on a diagnostic tool designed to measure cognitive impairment.
After receiving training and working with elementary school age children for 15 hours a week for six months, the women were tested and were found to have significantly improved their performance on the cognitive impairment tests. The researchers say that the study, though small, provides insight into how seniors and the elderly can both maintain and improve their mental acuity as they age.
The work the women performed in the elementary schools involved a wide variety of tasks, ranging from assisting library staff in shelving and cataloging books, as well as assisting students and reading to them. The researchers say that the social activities the women engaged in, as well as the novelty of the tasks and the hours they spent doing it, likely aided in improving their cognitive abilities.
This is welcome news for all seniors, and though this study still needs to be replicated in a much larger group to draw any definitive conclusions, it shows that cognitive decline is not always permanent nor is it avoided through simple activities such as doing crossword puzzles or occasionally reading to their grandchildren.