3 Key Takeaways From the AAIC 2023

At the AAIC 2023 conference, more than 10,000 researchers from around the world gathered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, to share and discuss the latest findings on dementia research.

Our team had the privilege of speaking with many inspiring researchers at our booth, where we shared information about the benefits of the Tovertafel. In addition, our senior researcher, Claire Bernaards, attended several informative sessions, and we would like to share our top three takeaways.

1. New risk factors for developing dementia came to light

At this year’s conference, a major focus was on preventing and reducing the risk of cognitive decline in older adults. New risk factors for developing dementia were identified, such as sleep disturbances, hearing loss, air pollution, and lack of social engagement.

Disturbed sleep patterns may contribute to dementia and cognitive decline, so maintaining a healthy sleep schedule could be beneficial. For example, staying active during the day and reducing stimuli in the evening.

Hearing loss is a significant modifiable risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline, as evidenced by a study showing the positive effects of hearing aids on different types of dementia.

It is clear that there are actions that can be taken now to minimize future risks.

2. 96% of those with Alzheimer’s have at least one sensory deficit

According to a study by Natalie Phillips at Concordia University in Quebec, Canada, people with Alzheimer’s disease commonly experience sensory deficits such as hearing, vision, and olfactory problems. In fact, at least one sensory deficit is present in 96% of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

As the disease progresses, it becomes more likely that individuals will have multiple sensory issues. Unfortunately, hearing and vision problems are often overlooked in dementia patients and not fully examined.

Improving their quality of life can be achieved by identifying and addressing these sensory deficits with appropriate aids.

3. Games can play a role in detecting and reducing cognitive decline

At Tover, we recognize the power of games to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia through purposeful play. During the conference, we learned that games can also play a role in detecting and reducing cognitive decline.

Florian Sander (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Switzerland) presented the effects of the game ‘ACE X’ in detecting cognitive deficits and for neurorehabilitation purposes. The results indicate that ACE-X can reveal deficits in working memory and multitasking for everyday life. Regarding neurorehabilitation, the outcomes show sustained benefits in attention, working memory and everyday life.

A study showed that web-based crossword puzzles were more effective in reducing cognitive decline than web-based cognitive games in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. More research needs to be done to find the reason for this finding; nevertheless, the author of this article has some possible explanations: 1. crossword puzzles are difficult which is beneficial for brain health, 2. it engages multiple brain regions and new connections in the brain will be formed, 3. it is a social activity and this is also associated with beneficial connectivity between different parts of the brain.

It is never too early or late to start working on brain health. So we would say: start doing that crossword puzzle!

Attending AAIC 2023 energized us to implement this new knowledge in our activities in order to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia.

Learn more about how Tovertafel’s serious games support providing social and physical activation, relaxation, or cognitive stimulation.

Read here about the Tovertafel Games