A new study has suggested that encouraging elderly to talk about old times may help improve their memory and ease the effects of dementia.
The research team led by Professor Catherine Haslam, at the University of Exeter, showed that 'reminiscence therapy' can significantly increase cognitive recall and agility of the mind by up to 12 per cent within six weeks.
During the study, the researchers recruited 73 people - aged between 70 and 90 and some with dementia - and split them into three groups.
The first group was made to sit around once a week in sets of five and reminisce about the old days such as childhood, weddings and family holidays, as well objects that could spark memories such as old-fashioned ink pots and hats.
After six weeks, the standard cognitive tests showed that the memory had improved by 12 per cent. Those suffering dementia saw an improvement of about eight per cent.
In contrast, the two other groups - one that was encouraged to play skittles - and another that was encouraged to have one on one chats showed very little improvement in their brain power.
"The people we were talking to were more than happy to bring up the war. It emerged as a very important part of their lives. As well as it improving their memory some people found it incredibly enjoyable," the Telegraph quoted Prof Haslam, a neuropsychologist as saying.
"It doesn't actually reverse dementia but it seems to make the most of their residual abilities," she added.
Professor Alex Haslam, her husband, who was also carrying out research into social groups at the university, said the result were very significant.
"If you had a drug that could do that you would that you would make a lot of money. The drug in this case is the social group," he said.