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Health Coaches Can Help with Alzheimer’s Symptoms

— January 23, 2024

Every year in the United States, Alzheimer’s cases are increasingly doled out to the despair of individuals in their family members. Many find the prospect of losing their memories or being forgotten almost as terrifying as the real medical concerns that come with it. In an age where the odds of getting Alzheimer’s doubles every 5 years, people will grasp at any piece of hope. So when a new study was released suggesting that individuals may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s just by meeting with health coaches, people were immediately intrigued.

The new study, which was officially released back in September of 2023, took roughly 4 years of data into account before formulating its findings. Over 172 adults from ages 70 to 89 were included. This group was considered “high risk” for dementia as is common with that age range as individuals above 65 are most likely to be impacted. This control group was not to have any contact with health coaches over the course of the study so that their outcomes could be compared with the research participants.

Specific factors in health also made participants eligible to be included in the study, and the experts drew from a long list of key risks that can increase one’s susceptibility to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Rather than looking at family history they analyzed patterns of poor sleep, hypertension, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, social isolation, mental health issues, and certain prescription medications.

Health Coaches Can Help with Alzheimer's Symptoms
Photo by Cliff Booth from Pexels

To kick off the study, every participant was assigned a health coach with whom they could set a number of goals to choose what elements of their lifestyle they wanted to improve. These lifestyle elements were selected from the list above. The patients then continued meeting with their coach over the course of two years with a meeting cadence of once every few months. They would discuss and track progress toward their goals that could be reported back to those conducting the study.

The research team ultimately found that those who were included in the study group (working with health coaches) had a 74% improvement over those in the control group. This improvement was determined and measured by cognitive test scores. They tested the difference in participants from their first meeting to the end of the study. These participants had a massive decrease in their original risk factors (145%). The team was able to determine, overall, that quality of life increased significant for that group, too, though this was a bit more subjective.

Needless to say, the findings are a huge beacon of hope for the current medical community involved in Alzheimer’s research. They represent the reality that the brain can be trained over time which could spell hope for those with Alzheimer’s or those at risk of one day living with the disease. While more studies should be done on particular risks and benefits, experts feel hopeful that this is a study that will stick and can be cross applied widely to patients to reduce risk and improve quality of life.


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