As the baby boomer generation ages, we’re seeing an increase of older adults experiencing age-related memory decline.
Whether it’s losing your keys or having trouble recalling someone’s name, these mild memory slips actually begin to become significant for the average person by the time they reach their 40s.
Fortunately, there are easy-to-learn techniques that can help people compensate for such common memory challenges.
The UCLA Longevity Center has created memory classes that are available in more than a dozen states in the U.S. Generally, older students learn how to use visual images to retain and recall information and improve their everyday memory skills.
These kinds of methods have also been incorporated into computer games to improve memory and other cognitive skills.
Dr. Karen Miller and her associates at UCLA explored whether Dakim BrainFitness computerized training exercises actually improved cognitive performance in older adults.
The team studied residents of local retirement communities and randomized volunteers into two groups: an intervention group that used the computer program five days each week for about 25 minutes each day; and a control group that did not play the computer game.
On average, the volunteers were 82 years old, and none of them had dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The computer gaming group showed significant memory improvement after two and six months of play, while the control group did not. After 40 of the 25-minute gaming sessions, volunteers also showed significant improvements in language skills.
This UCLA study clearly demonstrated that you can teach an older brain new memory tricks.
Posit Science, a company founded by neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, has performed studies demonstrating cognition benefits from games.
Researchers who were not affiliated with the company recently published a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society indicating that one of the exercises from the Posit Science game, called BrainHQ, provided cognitive benefits that could still be measured 10 years later.
These results were part of the ACTIVE (Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly) study, a large-scale investigation involving 2,832 people over the age of 65.
Such long-lasting effects from brain training support earlier research showing that mental stimulation delays symptoms of age-related cognitive decline.
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