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Meditation, Music May Help Reverse Early Memory Loss in Older Adults


Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging. 2017;25(1):43.


ALTC Editors

The practice of a simple meditation or music program may have multiple benefits for older adults with preclinical memory loss, according to a West Virginia University research team (published online head of print Janaury 18, 2017; J Alzheimers Dis. doi:10.3233/JAD-160867).

Researchers led by Kim Innes, MSPH, PhD, West Virginia University School of Public Health (Morgantown, WV), conducted a randomized, controlled trial of 60 older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD). Participants were assigned to either a beginners meditation (Kirtan Kriya) or music listening program and asked to practice 12 min/d for 12 weeks, then for 12 more weeks with no set amount of daily practice. 

At 3 months, upon analysis, both the meditation and music groups showed marked and significant improvements in subjective memory function and objective cognitive performance. These included domains of cognitive functioning most likely to be affected in preclinical and early stages of dementia (eg, attention, executive function, processing speed, and subjective memory function). The substantial gains observed in memory and cognition were maintained or further increased at 6 months.

These findings build on a previous study from the same research team (J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;52[4]:1277-1298) that focused on quality-of-life benefits of the intervention. In this study, both groups showed improvements in sleep, mood, stress, well-being, and quality of life, with gains that were that were particularly pronounced in the meditation group. All benefits were sustained or further enhanced at 3 months post-intervention.

The findings of this latest study, researchers suggest, is that two simple mind-body practices—Kirtan Kriya meditation and a music listening program—may not only improve mood, sleep, and quality of life, but may also boost cognition and help reverse perceived memory loss in older adults with SCD.
Amanda Del Signore

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