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Reading, writing, arithmetic could slow dementia: study

Elderly dementia patients could prevent the worsening of symptoms if they continued engaging in reading, writing and solving arithmetic problems, a study conducted by a private tutoring company has shown.

Kumon Institute of Education Co. reported the research results on Sept. 12. The study targeted 57 dementia patients living at care facilities as subjects and divided them into two groups -- 30 people who engaged in studying for half an hour, five days a week for a year in principle; and the remaining 27 who didn't. The average age for each group was around 85 and the levels of nursing care needed were in the range of 2 to 3, with 5 being the most intensive care.

When the time required for nursing care was examined -- an index used to determine the nursing care levels -- it was found that the average time needed to care for the first group of dementia patients who continued studying for a year did not change much, while the latter group saw an average increase of 18.8 minutes per patient for nursing care compared to the first group. The difference is equivalent to nearly one whole stage when converted into the nursing care levels.

Furthermore, an estimate for the annual cost of nursing care showed that the group that kept studying for a year cost 198,406 yen less per person, even with the cost for the learning program being taken into account.

Kumon's learning therapy center representative Shinji Ito says people will need to choose the most effective nursing care services, including those that provide studying programs, to slow dementia.

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