By Dr. Brian McDonough

Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Whatever the underlying cause of dementia, whether it is Alzheimer’s or another issue, there is no doubt that a series of group activities designed to stimulate thought, conversation and memory appears to improve the mental functioning of people battling this issue.

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Mental stimulation, in particular interaction with groups, is crucial.

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According to researchers from Oregon, cognitive stimulation which involves structured activities in a group setting usually one or more times a week is quite helpful. Some examples of how it works are sessions that might include a discussion of current events, show-and-tell with objects or other activities that get the participants to engage their minds.

In this particular study, the stimulation sessions lasted from 30 to 90 minutes, and people met as frequently as five times a week. The studies continued for at least a month and up to two years but you don’t have to follow close rules.

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The bottom line is that group interaction and stimulation is key.