Perceptions and Beliefs About the Role of Physical Activity and Nutrition on Brain Health in Older Adults

Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly Street, PHRC 3rd Floor, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.
The Gerontologist (Impact Factor: 3.21). 06/2009; 49 Suppl 1(S1):S61-71. DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnp078
Source: PubMed


To examine older adults' perceptions of the link between physical activity (PA) and nutrition to the maintenance of cognitive health.
Forty-two focus groups (FGs) were conducted with 396 ethnically diverse (White, African American, American Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Hispanic) community-dwelling older adults. FGs were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded using a constant comparison method. Responses pertaining to PA and nutrition were analyzed.
Participants noted a positive link between both PA and dietary practices and brain health, although some participants voiced skepticism regarding diet. Walking was most frequently cited as a recommended PA, but participants did not know the recommended frequency, duration, and intensity. Limiting portion sizes; preparing foods in healthier ways; eating more fish, fruits, vegetables, low-fat foods, and chicken; and eating less red meat and chicken with the skin were associated with brain health. Multiple dietary supplements were also discussed. More racial/ethnic differences were noted for PA than for diet.
Interventions and media campaigns may benefit from explicitly linking PA and dietary habits with brain health and helping older adults understand that cardiovascular risk factors are also dementia risk factors. Emphasizing the total diet (vs. specific nutrients) and providing clear messages regarding the frequency, duration, and intensity of recommended PA would also be useful.

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    • "There is little research into older adults with cognitive impairment undertaking physical activity. However, research has demonstrated beliefs in a positive link between both physical activity and dietary practices and brain health (Wilcox et al., 2009) and people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) endorsing mental and physical exercise, optimism, dietary changes and stress reduction to prevent conversion to dementia (McIlvane et al., 2008). The Seattle Protocols involving structured problem solving approaches were shown to be feasible to help people with dementia and cognitive impairment and their carers undertake a physical activity program (Teri et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: IntroductionThere is increasing evidence to support the benefits of physical activity on cognition in older adults. This paper describes (i) the attitudes, beliefs and barriers towards physical activity of older adults with and without cognitive impairment and (ii) their opinion of the attributes of the ideal physical activity program.Methods Thematic analysis of focus groups and individual interviews with 50 older adults with no cognitive impairment, subjective memory complaints, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease was performed.ResultsConsistent with previous research in cognitively intact older adults, most participants, irrespective of cognitive status, had a positive attitude towards physical activity and believed it was beneficial both generally and for cognition. There was a preference for physical activity programs to be suggested by advertising and general practitioners (GPs), undertaken in a group setting, and beliefs that they should be tailored to individual's needs and preferences, and should be affordable according to their income. Participants with cognitive impairment cited specific barriers including “memory” and “lack of companion” as well as preferring “accessible” settings and “simple/light/safe” activities.DiscussionThese findings provide useful data, particularly from participants with cognitive impairment, with whom there has been little research to date. This could contribute to efforts to translate the growing research evidence of the benefits of physical activity for brain health into effective community programs.
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    • "Despite a steady increase worldwide, developed countries experience a stagnation in the consumption of meat and meat products (Popkin, 2009). Whereas red meat is valued to decrease malnutrition and increase food security in developing countries (McNeill & van Elswyk, 2012), consumers in developed countries associate red meat with possible health risks (Wilcox et al., 2009) because of its high fat and cholesterol contents (Higgs, 2000). Venison and game meat have experienced a rise in popularity in recent years, owing to its low intramuscular fat content (Hoffman & Wiklund, 2006) and presumably positive health effects if consumed (Cordain et al., 2002; Giordano et al., 2010). "
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    • "We adapted a focus group discussion guide developed for the Healthy Brain Study (J. N. Laditka, et al., 2009; Wilcox, et al., 2009). This analysis examines responses to one question XML Template (2012) [5.7.2012–11:50am] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] K:/DEM/DEM 446872.3d "
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    ABSTRACT: We examined experiences and concerns among caregivers of community-dwelling people with dementia from two ethnic groups. We conducted a thematic analysis of responses to the question, 'What is your life like as a caregiver?' in nine focus groups (n = 75) with Filipino and non-Hispanic White caregivers. Constant comparison methods identified themes by ethnicity. Experiences and concerns expressed across groups were related to care recipient symptoms commonly associated with dementia, including severe memory loss and behavioral changes. Participants in both ethnic groups described strategies that help them cope, such as receiving help from family and friends, receiving respite support, and participating in support groups. Filipino caregivers more often emphasized positive aspects of caregiving, whereas Whites often expressed that others do not understand the daily experiences of caregiving. Filipinos more commonly described caregivers as a 'good person' or 'saint' and emphasized that caregiving made them stronger.
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