Spirituality, Religious Practice May Slow Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

Embargoed for Release until 3:00 P.M. ET, Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Miami Beach – Spirituality and the practice of religion may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 57th Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, Fla., April 9 – 16, 2005. The study assessed 68 people aged 49 to 94 who met criteria for probable Alzheimer’s disease. Religiosity and spirituality were measured with the validated Duke University Religion Index and the Overall Self-Ranking subscale from the NIH/Fetzer Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality. These methods collected information on the patients’ practices such as attendance at religious events and private religious activities. “We learned that the patients with higher levels of spirituality or higher levels of religiosity may have a significantly slower progression of cognitive decline,” said study author Yakir Kaufman, MD, who conducted the research as a fellow at of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto, Ontario and is now the director of neurology services at The Sarah Herzog Memorial Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel. “Spirituality and religiosity have been linked to better health outcomes,” said Kaufman. “Our research addressed the question whether this link is also relevant in Alzheimer’s disease.” Spirituality and private religious practices accounted for 20 percent of the total variance. Kaufman said that further studies are needed to better understand the connection between religiosity and cognitive decline. “These findings may warrant an interventional study looking at the possible effect of enhancement of spiritual well-being as a means of slowing cognitive decline,” said Kaufman.

The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 34,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit AAN.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Editor's Notes:Dr. Kaufman will present this research during a scientific poster session at the 57th Annual Meeting at 3:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 13 in Hall A of the Miami Beach Convention Center. He will be available for media questions during a briefing at 1:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 12 in the on-site Press Interview Room, room a107. All listed times are Eastern Time (ET).


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