Finger: A new operating model helps prevent memory disorders

Published: 29.9.2021 11.33Updated: 8.10.2021 11.59

The Finnish ‘Finger’ study is the first in the world to prove that making lifestyle changes can improve the cognitive functions of the elderly and prevent the deterioration of memory functions. We first piloted this practical model in the Tapiola Health Centre in Espoo.

The Finger study has been running since 2009 and it has been used as a basis for the creation of the straightforward Finger operating model to prevent memory disorders. The model has also garnered some international attention – and no wonder: according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), nearly 50 million people suffered from memory disorders worldwide in 2015. In Finland, approximately 14,500 people develop memory disorders each year. (Source: https://thl.fi/en/web/chronic-diseases/memory-disorders

First we chart the risks, then we make lifestyle changes together

“The Finger operating model is very clear-cut,” says project manager Sanna Rosendahl. It includes a test to chart the risk of memory disorders and four different lifestyle changes that reduce the risk: practical nutritional guidance, a gradually increasing exercise regime, memory practice and the management of cardiovascular disease risk factors.

“The efficiency of the model is impressive: the study showed that the risk of memory disorders could be reduced by 30 per cent with these different lifestyle programmes,” Sanna Rosendahl says. 

 In the study, a lifestyle programme was as effective for those who had a hereditary risk of memory disorders. The earlier risk factors of the subjects did not affect the results, either. This means that even if a person has several memory disorder risk factors, the lifestyle changes will help reduce the risk to develop memory disorders.

Workbook to help with individual guidance, encouragement and monitoring

People invited to participate in the pilot will be 55–75-year-old patients with chronic illnesses coming to the Tapiola Health Centre between 20 September and 30 November 2021 for their annual check-ups. Participating in the pilot is voluntary.

What does participating in the pilot mean in practice?

The participants will be informed of their memory disorder risk and referred to individually selected services, such as personal physical education sessions and an exercise group. The lifestyle programme will be implemented for six months. The participant will monitor the results together with health centre personnel. The Finger workbook will support the participant in making lifestyle changes.

Pilot to start in Espoo – results utilised throughout Western Uusimaa

The first phase of the pilot will be executed in Espoo, but in the future, the model can be employed throughout the Western Uusimaa wellbeing services county.

According to THL, the Finger model has not been used as part of basic health care services in cooperation with several different operators elsewhere in Finland. There have, of course, been smaller, isolated pilots.

The Finger study is still ongoing. An international network covering 30 countries has been created as part of the study to test the efficiency of the model in different cultures and countries. Hopefully, we will soon see the results of making changes in our everyday lives in the lives of the participants in Tapiola – and ultimately in their memory.

We extend a warm welcome to all participants!

More information: Project Manager Sanna Rosendahl, sanna.rosendahl@espoo.fi

Western Uusimaa wellbeing services county

  • Wellbeing Services County