Breakthrough Study: Alzheimer’s Patients Benefit from Lifestyle Coaching, Not Drugs

Updated on October 18, 2023

A study just published online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that pre-dementia and Alzheimer’s patients who received lifestyle coaching (including in using computerized brain exercises) derived cognitive benefit not generally seen in studies of Alzheimer’s drugs. The brain exercises used in the study were from the BrainHQ brain training app, developed and marketed by Posit Science.

“While prior studies with BrainHQ have looked at the prevention of dementia in older adults, the , and at , to my knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial looking at the impact of BrainHQ training in people diagnosed with pre-dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease,” observed Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science. “This study took a coached multimodal approach, similar to what was used in the Worldwide FINGER studies, but in people who already have a pre-dementia or an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The results show better post-intervention performance at both memory and functional measures than the control, making a strong argument for changing our standard of care.”

In this prospective randomized controlled trial, called Coaching for Cognition in Alzheimer’s (COCOA), conducted by the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in Seattle, researchers compared two cohorts of patients – one made up of 24 participants who received standard care, the other made up of 31 participants who received standard care plus telephonic personalized coaching for lifestyle intervention. The study was funded by Providence St. Joseph Health as part of the health system’s Alzheimer’s Translational Pillar.

“Over a two-year period, our trial showed that personalized lifestyle coaching in addition to standard of care decreases the amount of cognitive decline in patients on the Alzheimer’s disease spectrum,” said ISB Senior Research Scientist Dr. Jared Roach, who led the trial. “This is evidence that personalized coaching focused on diet, exercise, brain training and other lifestyle factors should be part of the first line of dementia care and prevention.”

The study results showed that at the end of the 2-year intervention, the participants in the coaching intervention had significantly better performance (by 2.1 points on average) on 

the Memory Performance Index (MPI) compared to controls and showed significantly slower deterioration in Functional Assessment Staging Test (FAST) scores.

Personalized coaching focused on cognitive training through BrainHQ, dietary recommendations based on the MIND diet, physical activity recommendations based on U.S. public health guidelines, and recommendations for sleep and stress management.

BrainHQ has shown benefits in hundreds of studies. Such benefits include gains in cognition (attention, processing speed, memory, decision-making), in quality of life (depressive symptoms, confidence and control, health-related quality of life) and in real-world activities (health outcomes, balance, driving, hearing). BrainHQ is now offered, without charge, by leading national and 5-star Medicare Advantage plans and by leading medical centers, clinics, and communities. Consumers can try a BrainHQ exercise for free daily at https://www.brainhq.com

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.