Talking to Patients about Brain Fitness

Article

According to an article in USA Today, researchers anticipate that approximately 14 million (18%) of the 79 million baby boomers “can expect to develop Alzheimer’s."

As the population ages and the baby boomers begin to retire, their daily routine of getting up early, going to work, and participating in evening activities is no longer set; they can wake up at anytime, take naps in the afternoon, visit family anytime, and travel more. Retirees often find themselves getting bored because they are not actively challenging their minds. There is also the problem of the predicted increase in the number of people who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia. According to an article in USA Today, researchers anticipate that approximately 14 million (18%) of the 79 million baby boomers “can expect to develop Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia in their lifetime.” This is all the more reason for people to maintain brain fitness as they age as a way to either avoid or slow down AD or dementia development.

Over the last couple of years, a new industry—brain stimulation software for computers—has emerged in response to this challenge. Sales totaled $225 million in 2007, more than doubled since 2005. One company that has become a major player in the industry is Posit Science, founded by Dr. Michael Merzenich, renowned neuroscientist, who serves as the company’s Chief Scientific Officer, and Jeff Zimman, who serves as President and CEO of Posit Science. The goal of the company is “to apply breakthroughs in brain research to enhance human performance and to promote brain health,” and to become “the leading provider of scientifically validated brain health programs.”

The company’s first program, the Brain Fitness Program Classic has undergone several rigorous clinical trials that demonstrated its ability to speed up “auditory processing by 131%, [improving] memory by an average of 10 years, and more.” In fact, an article published earlier this week cited how Erickson Retirement Communities, a leading developer of retirement communities, is offering to its residents in Pompton Plains, NJ and Naperville, IL the opportunity to participate in three eight-week Brain Fitness Programs. “We decided to introduce formalized cognitive fitness programs because we are committed to providing a lifestyle that offers unparalleled opportunities for successful aging, and are aware that memory loss is a key concern among mature adults,” said Barbara Pilgram, Director of Mental Health and Wellness Programs.

As the brain stimulation software industry continues to grow, more and more games and websites will be designed for people to access fun, challenging games to exercise their brains. Here are a some resources to recommend to your patients:

Brain Age 2: How Old Is Your Brain? (Nintendo DS game)

Lumosity

Happy Neuron

MyBrainTrainer.com

Crossword Puzzles (multiple websites are listed)

Sudoku Puzzles (multiple websites are listed)

The Brainwaves Center

Braingle

Queendom

Brainbuilder.com

For patients uninterested in playing games, here are some additional suggestions you can offer:

  • Play games
  • Meditation
  • Eat for your brain
  • Tell good stories
  • Turn off your television
  • Exercise your body to exercise your brain
  • Read something different
  • Learn a new skill
  • Make simple changes

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