The world wide web provides us with immediate responses to almost any question we can imagine, learning opportunities beyond what we could have dreamed of a generation ago, socialization enhancement, and so much more. One of the more worthwhile Internet developments for those of us in the senior care field has been brain training programs – the computerized memory games and puzzles that claim to contribute to cognitive improvement. But how well do they actually do the job?
AARP has been studying just that, sharing information in an interesting report, Engage Your Brain. Although further studies are required to better learn the long-term cognitive impact of brain-stimulating activities, what we can say for certain is that neuron connections can be improved through learning, which results in the brain’s power to alter structure, function, and chemistry, a concept referred to as brain plasticity. This ability continues to be in place as the brain ages.
In one study, the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE), seniors’ cognitive functioning as well as memory exhibited a fantastic improvement of close to 63% whenever using online cognitive training applications. On top of that, older persons who participated in the research showed a 48% less chance of causing auto accidents, and had the ability to better manage such day-to-day responsibilities as money management, taking medicines, and more.
Dr. Michael Merzenich, co-founder of Posit Science (creators of the Brain HQ program), has run a series of clinical trials to better identify the effects of select online brain strengthening applications, specifically, whether cognitive decline can be minimized or slowed down. The results suggested a marked improvement in memory, with participants’ memory recall comparable to people 10 years their junior. Conversely, exercises like crossword puzzles failed to reveal an impact on cognitive decline, with seniors who consistently engage in crossword puzzles still behind the younger generation in their level of performance. However, in comparison with other seniors who did not work on crossword puzzles, functioning does appear to be somewhat enhanced. Dr. Merzenich describes it as, “Crossword puzzles might improve your cognitive function, but it’s equally likely that having good cognitive function encourages you to do crossword puzzles.” Dr. Merzenich covers his investigations in more depth in this TED Talk.
It is necessary for consumers to sufficiently investigate online programs that guarantee to improve a senior’s memory or cognitive performance level, because there have been some businesses recently who have been revealed to wrongly advertise these types of claims.
Home Sweet Home In-Home Care of St. Joseph supplies opportunities for older persons to maximize cognitive functioning through mentally stimulating games, reminiscing, socialization plus much more. Contact us for in-home solutions for your client or senior loved one!