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Exp Gerontol ; 152: 111434, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1258367


BACKGROUND: Evidence-based interventions to improve mobility in older people include balance, strength and cognitive training. Digital technologies provide the opportunity to deliver tailored and progressive programs at home. However, it is unknown if they are effective in older people, especially in those with cognitive impairment. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of a novel tablet-delivered cognitive-motor program on mobility in older people with cognitive impairment. METHODS: This was a 6-month single-blind randomised controlled trial of older people living in the community with subjective and/or objective cognitive impairment. Participants randomised to the intervention were asked to follow a 120 min per week balance, strength and cognitive training program delivered via an app on an iPad. Both the intervention and control group received monthly phone calls and health fact sheets. The primary outcome measure was gait speed. Secondary measures included dual-task gait speed, balance (step test, FISCIT-4), 5 sit to stand test, cognition (executive function, memory, attention), mood and balance confidence. Adherence, safety, usability and feedback were also measured. RESULTS: The planned sample size of 110 was not reached due to COVID-19 restrictions. A total of 93 (mean age 72.8 SD 7.0 years) participants were randomised to the two groups. Of these 77 participants returned to the follow-up clinic. In intention-to-treat analysis for gait speed, there was a non-significant improvement favouring the intervention group (ß 0.04 m/s 95% CI -0.01, 0.08). There were no significant findings for secondary outcomes. Adherence was excellent (84.5%), usability of the app high (76.7% SD 15.3) and no serious adverse events were reported. Feedback on the app was positive and included suggestions for future updates. CONCLUSION: Due to COVID-19 the trial was under powered to detect significant results. Despite this, there was a trend towards improvement in the primary outcome measure. The excellent adherence and positive feedback about the app suggest a fully powered trial is warranted.

COVID-19 , Cognitive Dysfunction , Accidental Falls , Aged , Cognition , Cognitive Dysfunction/therapy , Exercise , Exercise Therapy , Humans , Postural Balance , SARS-CoV-2 , Single-Blind Method , Tablets
J Alzheimers Dis Rep ; 5(1): 143-152, 2021 Feb 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1256347


Memory interventions for older adults with cognitive concerns result in improved memory performance and maintenance of cognitive health. These programs are typically delivered face-to-face, which is resource intensive and creates access barriers, particularly for those with reduced mobility, limited transportation, and living in rural or remote areas. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an additional access barrier, given the increased risk this disease poses to older adults. Internet-based interventions seek to overcome these barriers. This paper describes the protocol of a pilot study that aims to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of one such internet-based intervention: the Online Personalised Training in Memory Strategies for Everyday (OPTIMiSE) program. OPTIMiSE focuses on improving knowledge regarding memory and providing training in effective memory strategies for everyday life. The pilot study described in this protocol will be a single-arm pre-post study of 8 weeks duration, with a single maintenance session 3 months post-intervention. Participants will be Australian adults aged ≥60 years reporting cognitive changes compared with 10 years ago. Primary outcome measures will address feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy. Secondary outcome measures assessing sense of community and self-efficacy will be administered at the 8-week and 3-month timepoints. Data collection will conclude mid-2021, and results will be presented in a subsequent publication. Translation of memory interventions to internet-based delivery has the potential to remove many access barriers for older adults; however, the acceptability and feasibility of this modality needs investigation. OPTIMiSE is the initial step in what could be an important program enabling access to an evidence-based memory intervention for older adults worldwide. Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR), ACTRN12620000979954.

Alzheimers Dement (N Y) ; 7(1): e12169, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1239997


INTRODUCTION: Containment measures implemented to minimize the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are reported to be negatively affecting mental health, diet, and alcohol consumption. These factors, as well as poor cardiometabolic health and insufficient physical and cognitive activity, are known to increase the risk of developing dementia. COVID-19 "lockdown" measures may have exacerbated these dementia risk factors among people in mid-to-later life. METHODS: We compared longitudinal data from before (October 2019) and during (April-June 2020) the first COVID-19 lockdown period in Tasmania, Australia. Participants (n = 1671) were 50+ years of age and engaged in a public health program targeting dementia risk reduction, with one-third participating in the Preventing Dementia Massive Open Online Course (PD-MOOC). Regression models were used to assess changes in smoking, alcohol use, body mass index (BMI), diet, physical exercise, cognitive and social activity, anxiety and depression, and management of cholesterol, diabetes, and blood pressure. Where significant changes were noted, the moderating influence of being in current employment, living with others, and completing the PD-MOOC was tested. RESULTS: Although friend networks contracted marginally during lockdown, no detrimental effects on modifiable dementia risk factors were noted. Anxiety levels and alcohol consumption decreased, there was no change in depression scores, and small but significant improvements were observed in cognitive and physical activity, smoking, diet, and BMI. Stronger improvements in cognitive activity were observed among people who were cohabiting (not living alone) and both cognitive activity and adherence to the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH diet Intervention for Neurological Delay) improved more for people who participated in the PD-MOOC. DISCUSSION: Longitudinal data did not show widespread negative effects of COVID-19 lockdown on modifiable dementia risk factors in this sample. The results counter the dominant narratives of universal pandemic-related distress and suggest that engaging at-risk populations in proactive health promotion and education campaigns during lockdown events could be a protective public health strategy.