Memory Training Plus Yoga for Older Adults

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Abstract

Previous tests of the SeniorWISE intervention with community-residing older adults that were designed to improve affect and cognitive performance were successful and positively affected these outcomes. In this study, we tested whether adding yoga to the intervention would affect the outcomes. Using a quasiexperimental pre–post design, we delivered 12 hours of SeniorWISE memory training that included a 30-minute yoga component before each training session. The intervention was based on the four components of self-efficacy theory: enactive mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiologic arousal. We recruited 133 older adults between the ages of 53 and 96 years from four retirement communities in Central Texas. Individuals were screened and tested and then attended training sessions two times a week over 4 weeks. A septuagenarian licensed psychologist taught the memory training, and a certified yoga instructor taught yoga. Eighty-three participants completed at least 9 hours (75%) of the training and completed the posttest. Those individuals who completed made significant gains in memory performance, instrumental activities of daily living, and memory self-efficacy and had fewer depressive symptoms. Thirteen individuals advanced from poor to normal memory performance, and seven improved from impaired to poor memory performance; thus, 20 individuals improved enough to advance to a higher functioning memory group. The findings from this study of a memory training intervention plus yoga training show that the benefits of multifactorial interventions had additive benefits. The combined treatments offer a unique model for brain health programs and the promotion of nonpharmacological treatment with the goals of maintaining healthy brain function and boosting brain plasticity.

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