What Are The Long-Term Effects of Cognitive Training in Older Adults?

Researchers and managed care professionals are very interested in the long-term effects of cognitive training in older adults. Older adults seek out ways to improve their cognitive functioning in regards to working memory, processing speed, language and executive functioning. Because some older adults prefer to avoid pharmacological interventions, cognitive training is an appealing method to improve cognitive functioning without the use of medication. 


One 5-year study examined the effect of memory, reasoning, or speed training on cognitive functioning in 2,802 older adults. Participants had ten 60-75 minute long training sessions in addition to 4 booster sessions over the course of the 5 years. Results from the study revealed 2 important benefits of providing cognitive training for older adults. 

Reasoning Training Helps Adults Perform Daily Life Activities with Ease!

Participants who completed any of the cognitive training interventions reported less difficulty performing everyday activities as assessed by the Self Reported I-ADL. However, only the participants who partook in reasoning training had a significant effect on improving their ease of performing everyday tasks. This finding shows that training older adults on reasoning abilities may help them perform daily life activities with less difficulty.

Cognitive Training Benefits Can Last With the Help of Booster Sessions.

Results from the study indicate that the booster sessions were significantly beneficial for participants given reasoning and processing speed training as measured by performance on cognitive tests taken over the 5-year period. While research is ongoing regarding the efficacy of cognitive training for adults, this study shows that providing continuous cognitive training and the addition of booster type sessions during therapy may help older adults retain cognitive training benefits.

What does this Mean for You?

HappyNeuron Pro can be used as a way to help your older adult clients practice important cognitive skills, such as working memory capacity and processing speed to be able to retain information shared in a doctor’s office and adhere to a medication regimen. Using HappyNeuron Pro’s digital cognitive therapy exercises, older adults can build the foundational blocks of these complex cognitive skills that can translate to real-world situations. Therapists can connect the activities performed on HappyNeuron Pro to a client’s daily life by providing them with bridging questions and activities that can help the client connect their practice of cognitive skills in a digital space to their behavior in the real-world. a

This means that you may want to implement a cognitive training program for the older adults you work with. Regular cognitive training in addition to providing booster sessions every few months to maintain therapeutic progress can help older adults function more independently. Many kinds of therapists can provide this training, including psychologists, SLPs, OTs, nurses, and rehabilitation counselors. Sometimes, activity directors may implement a cognitive training program for their residents as a way to help their residents engage in both cognitive training and cognitive stimulation therapy. 


Cognitive training can be done using digital cognitive therapy tools, good cognitive therapy worksheets, and free cognitive activities for adults. Many therapists today use a combination of telehealth and in-person cognitive training methods. Some digital cognitive therapy tools allow therapists to assign their older adult clients homework to do on their own.



Source Willis, S. L., Tennstedt, S. L., Marsiske, M., Ball, K., Elias, J., Koepke, K. M., … & Wright, E. (2006). Long-term effects of cognitive training on everyday functional outcomes in older adults. Jama, 296(23), 2805-2814.
Dustin Luchmee

Dustin was HappyNeuron's Product Specialist. With research experience in stroke, Dustin learned how a stroke can change someone's life. He also learned how different kinds of therapists can work together to help a person get better. He is passionate about neuro-rehabilitation and finding the active ingredients for effective therapy.

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