Keeping the Senior Brain in Peak Condition
Turning back the hands of time requires intense concentration. These seniors hope when they're done with this brain fitness program they'll have the memory skills they had 10 years ago. Esther Petty, 85, is a proud graduate of the eight-week course.
"I find that I can recall names a little bit faster than I did beforehand and that's good for me," Petty said.
For an hour each day, five days a week, participants at Sunrise Assisted Living in San Jose log on and work their way through a series of exercises, including differentiating between various sounds to help rewire the way the brain processes speech.
"I think the most challenging part was when you had to identify four sounds," Petty said.
Posit Science in San Francisco developed the program, based on research by a top UC-San Francisco neuroscientist.
"It's based on the theory that your brain can in fact change itself at any time in life if provided with the right stimuli in the right order in the right time," Petty explained.
When 86-year-old Richard Kleiner finished the course he says his confidence went up.
"I could remember a few more names, a few more things, a few more people," Kleiner said.
The course is not easy. It's not supposed to be.
"Sometimes it was very frustrating," said Kleiner.
Participants can also complete the program at home. It costs about $400 for each user. Seniors who have tried it say they can now remember what they saw in movies, where they left their keys, and what they just read. They may not be sweating from this workout, but they can feel it's paying off. In a study of nearly 200 seniors, those who did the brain fitness program for at least eight weeks demonstrated a significant improvement on memory tests, compared to those who watched educational DVDs.