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Brain Fitness Technology For Seniors

By Chris Iliades, MD

Cognition is your ability to use your brain effectively. Cognitive fitness includes language, memory and reasoning ability. As you age, your cognitive ability changes just like your physical ability changes. But research is now showing that your brain still has the ability to form new pathways even into your 80s.

"We have always recognized the importance of cognitive fitness," says Kari Olson, president of the Front Porch Center for Technology Innovation and Wellbeing. "A big step towards incorporating brain fitness technology into our retirement communities occurred in 2005 when our CEO Gary Wheeler met the CEO of Dakim Brain Fitness, Dan Michel," she says.

Wheeler thought Michel was really on to something and Front Porch became an early testing site for Dakim Brain Fitness technology and the first organization to install Dakim Brain Fitness for seniors nationally into its retirement communities.

"Our focus groups tell us that our seniors love exercising their brains and they really have come to appreciate and depend on brain fitness." —Kari Olson, CIO Front Porch

Front Porch: A Model Community
Based in Burbank, California, Front Porch is the largest non-profit provider of retirement living in Southern California. Front Porch provides independent and assisted living communities as well as skilled nursing care centers and specialized memory support neighborhoods.

Dedicated to enhancing the lives and lifestyles of older adults, Front Porch creates communities that celebrate the art of the individual, says Olson. Front Porch currently has 11 full-service communities in California and adult living communities in Florida, Louisiana and Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. "Front porch has been an innovative leader in its approach to wellness in aging," says Olson.

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, they expect a lot more out of retirement than their parents’ generation did. Front Porch communities are ready to meet this need with communities that offer connection, community interaction and lifelong learning.

Brain Fitness For Seniors Technology At Front Porch
"Since 2005, the Dakim Brain Fitness program has been offered at Front Porch’s independent living, assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing facilities," says Olson. "Since 2008, our clients have logged over 100,000 sessions."

Dakim Brain Fitness technology is a software program specifically designed for adults over age 60. The brain exercises are presented in a format that is challenging but fun and that engages the user in creative games to improve memory, focus and concentration. The program is available at a small computer screen that uses touch-screen technology.

These units can be found in Front Porch libraries, community rooms and in computer labs at most of the independent living and assisted living communities. The Dakim Brain Fitness program can also be used with a projector and enjoyed as community activity.

Another innovative cognitive fitness tool used by Front Porch is the Life Bio Program. "This program was started at Walnut Village, one of our continuing care retirement communities. We are extending it to another continuing care community because it has proved to be such a powerful group activity," adds Olson. The Life Bio Program encourages seniors to share and document their memories. As they build their life’s story they also build a sense of community and belonging.

Today’s Retirement Communities
Retirement living is not about letting go of life. Communities like those developed by Front Porch have realized that what seniors really want is choice, opportunity, involvement and discovery. "Our focus groups tell us that our seniors love exercising their brains and they really have come to appreciate and depend on brain fitness," says Olson.

According to Dakim, twenty minutes a day of brain exercise can reduce your risk of cognitive decline by over 60 percent. If you are not ready for a retirement community, you can purchase Dakim Brain Fitness as a DVD for your home computer; for more, go to Dakim.com. If you are ready to consider a retirement community, a Front Porch community is a great place to be. You might even be able to exercise your brain on the beach in Mexico; for more, go to FrontPorch.net.