Past Issues

A Commentary on “Daily Activities and Cognitive Functions among the Elderly”

Hin-Yeung Tsang

    To prevent deterioration of cognitive functions is important because it means to reduce the number of people who develop or progress to dementia. In the article “Daily Activities and Cognitive Functions among the Elderly” of this issue of the Taiwanese Journal of Psychiatry, Tseng and colleagues are reporting that engagement in either solitary or social activities was found to have buffering effects of cognitive function, that novel arts-related activities showed the benefit of reducing the risk of cognitive function declined by about 30%, and that exercising or engaging in community recreational activities reduced the risk by about 17%. They also found that after controlling for the basic characteristics of the subjects, multivariate analysis showed that participation in diverse daily activities was significantly beneficial in reducing damage to the cognitive function of elder individuals.

    From the viewpoint of the community mental health, the results of their study provide evidence that promoting formal and informal daily activities is beneficial for the elders. We have to remember that one strategy may not be applicable to all. Many factors contribute to the type of activity people involve, health condition, particular the severity of degenerative diseases (including visual impairment), motivation, depression, lifestyle characteristics, family support, and so on. Those relevant issues also need to take into account in the real world. Literature suggests that physical activity is important for all, maintaining muscle strength is of special importance, especially for the aged population. A systematic review and meta- analysis by Bridle and colleagues suggested that participating in an exercise program can reduce depressive symptoms by 20%.

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