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Coimbra university heading project to prevent dementia in over-60s

Project open to any over-60s interested in taking part

A scientific programme to prevent the risk of dementia in people over 60 years old is being developed by a multidisciplinary research team, coordinated by the University of Coimbra (UC), the institution announced today.

Called “REMINDER”, the project aims to “prevent cognitive decline and promote brain health using strategies that enhance lifestyle changes and cognitive and emotional flexibility“.

Project coordinator Ana Rita Silva explains that the programme includes “not only the monitoring of risk factors (such as hypertension control, diabetes, encouragement of physical activity), but also the prevention of psychosocial risk factors”, such as depression, anxiety and/ or social isolation.

According to the researcher from the Research Center for Neuropsychology and Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention (CINEICC) of the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the University of Coimbra (FPCEUC), the integrated approach of “REMINDER” will enhance the training of personal and social skills for emotional regulation and attentional focus, cognitive training and personal development, goal management and reminiscence therapy, with the guided recovery of positive memories.

The programme is made up of 20 sessions in groups of eight people, over 10 weeks. Activities to be developed will be based on five strategies: learning about brain health, exercising memory and other vital mental functions and modifying daily routines using compensatory methods, such as diaries and reminders.

The two remaining strategies involve improving “meaningful social interactions” (activities that promote socialisation and a sense of belonging) and adopting “protective lifestyles and cognitive and emotional flexibility for a healthier life, physically and mentally,” says a statement by the university.

In this developmental phase, and to understand its viability, “REMINDER” is being tested by a group of 20 people “between 60 and 75 years old, mostly from Coimbra.

Although the programme is still in its initial stages, levels of adhesion “have been above average compared to similar studies in other countries, and the interest in learning strategies to promote brain health and prevent forgetfulness and loss of functionality have been highlighted by most participants as the main reasons for participation”, Ana Rita Silva adds.

Next, the scientific team – which includes other researchers from the FPCEUC, from the Faculties of Science and Technology and Medicine of the UC and from the Universities of Madeira and Beira Interior, with the collaboration of senior universities and APRe! – Association of Retirees, Pensioners and Retired People – intends to extend “REMINDER” to other regions of the country “with important characteristics from the point of view of increased risk for dementia”.

Specifically “predominantly rural areas and areas with a predominance of senior population, with less than 9th grade education”.

For this and at this moment, participation in the programme “is open to any citizen aged 60 or over, without significant cognitive problems, but who already has some type of memory complaint”.

These people are invited to register online by accessing