Self-help memory training for healthy older adults in a residential care center: Specific and transfer effects on performance and beliefs

Elena Cavallini, Sara Bottiroli, Emanuela Capotosto, Rossana De Beni, Giorgio Pavan, Tomaso Vecchi, Erika Borella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background Cognitive flexibility has repeatedly been shown to improve after training programs in community-dwelling older adults, but few studies have focused on healthy older adults living in other settings. Objectives This study investigated the efficacy of self-help training for healthy older adults in a residential care center on memory tasks they practiced (associative and object list learning tasks) and any transfer to other tasks (grocery lists, face-name learning, figure-word pairing, word lists, and text learning). Transfer effects on everyday life (using a problem-solving task) and on participants' beliefs regarding their memory (efficacy and control) were also examined. With the aid of a manual, the training adopted a learner-oriented approach that directly encouraged learners to generalize strategic behavior to new tasks. The maintenance of any training benefits was assessed after 6 months. Method The study involved 34 residential care center residents (aged 70-99 years old) with no cognitive impairments who were randomly assigned to two programs: the experimental group followed the self-help training program, whereas the active control group was involved in general cognitive stimulation activities. Results Training benefits emerged in the trained group for the tasks that were practiced. Transfer effects were found in memory and everyday problem-solving tasks and on memory beliefs. The effects of training were generally maintained in both practiced and unpracticed memory tasks. Conclusion These results demonstrate that learner-oriented self-help training enhances memory performance and memory beliefs, in the short term at least, even in residential care center residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)870-880
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume30
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015

Keywords

  • learner-oriented approach
  • maintenance effects
  • older adults
  • residential care center
  • self-help memory training
  • transfer effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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