Cognitive training for early-stage Alzheimer's disease and dementia

J Gerontol Nurs. 2009 Mar;35(3):23-9. doi: 10.3928/00989134-20090301-10.


The purpose of this article is to critically review and synthesize the literature on the effects of nonpharmacological cognitive training on dementia symptoms in early-stage Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementia. Electronic databases MEDLINE (PubMed), CINAHL, PsycInfo, and the Cochrane Library were searched using the keywords cognition, reality orientation, Alzheimer's disease, psychosocial factors, cognitive therapy, brain plasticity, enriched environments, and memory training. The findings support that cognitive training improves cognition, activities of daily living, and decision making. Interventions are more effective if they are structured and focus on specific known losses related to the AD pathological process and a person's residual ability, or are combined with cognitive-enhancing medications. Nursing implications are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Alzheimer Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / organization & administration*
  • Decision Making
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Nurse's Role
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration*
  • Treatment Outcome