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Tai Chi Helps Older Adults Fight Depression and Cognitive Impairment
August 28, 2011 -
Vascular burden is known to contribute to geriatric depression and cognitive impairment. Several researchers from the Psychology Service of Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center and UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior conducted a study to evaluate the relationship between vascular burden and pattern of cognitive impairment in older adults with depression.
Methods: 94 community-dwelling older adults diagnosed with major depression were recruited to participate in the tai chi complementary use study aimed to improve antidepressant response to an antidepressant medication. All participants received comprehensive evaluations of depression, apathy, and vascular risk factors, and completed a battery of cognitive measures of memory, cognitive control, verbal fluency, and attention
Results: The severity of vascular burden was significantly correlated with depression severity and impaired performance on measures of cognitive control (i.e., inhibition/mental flexibility), and attention, but not memory or verbal fluency. Neither the severity of comorbid apathy nor medical illness burden was related to cognitive impairment.
Conclusions: Vascular burden in older depressed adults contributes to cognitive impairment, particularly in domains of attention and cognitive control. Our findings suggest that aggressive treatment of vascular risk factors may reduce risk for further cognitive decline in depressed older adults.
This study is published by American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in its August 2011 issue.




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