Effects of Cognitive Training on Cognition and Quality of Life of Older Persons with Dementia

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2018 Apr;66(4):664-670. doi: 10.1111/jgs.15196. Epub 2018 Jan 18.


Objectives: To evaluate the effect of cognitive training on cognition and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in community-dwelling persons with dementia.

Design: Single-blind randomized controlled trial with 3- and 9-month follow-up.

Setting: Adult day care centers in Helsinki, Finland.

Participants: Older individuals with mild to moderate dementia living at home and attending adult day care twice a week (N = 147; mean age 83, 72% female, 63% at mild stage of dementia).

Intervention: A systematic 12-week training program focused on subskills of executive function: attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility, and planning. The intervention group (n = 76) underwent cognitive training twice a week for 45 minutes, and the control group (n = 71) attended day care as usual.

Measurements: Primary outcomes were the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog) for global cognition and the 15-dimensional instrument (15D) for HRQoL. The outcomes were measured at baseline and 3 and 9 months.

Results: Both groups deteriorated in global cognition and HRQoL during follow-up, and there were no differences between the two groups in change on the ADAS-Cog (P = .43) or 15D (P = .61) over time (adjusted for age and sex). At 3 months, changes were 0.8 (95% confidence interval (CI) = -0.2-1.8) for the intervention group and 1.7 (95% CI = 0.6-2.7) for the control group on the ADAS-Cog and -0.040 (95% CI = -0.058 to -0.021) for the intervention group and -0.037 (95% CI = -0.056 to -0.018) for the control group on the 15D.

Conclusion: Systematic cognitive training had no effect on global cognition or HRQoL in community-living persons with mild to moderate dementia.

Keywords: cognition; cognitive training; dementia; quality of life; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Single-Blind Method