May 30, 2009
By: Alvaro Fernandez
– “Consumers and retirement homes have made brain-fitness games and exercises a commercial hit, but now some insurers and employers are incorporating them into wellness programs that promote health not just for the body but also for the mind.”
– “Improving brain health can result in less presenteeism, the tendency to be at work but be distracted and not able to focus,” he added. “If you look at disability costs, absenteeism and presenteeism account for most of the medical costs, and that’s a good reason for employers to be focused on brain health.” (according to Dr. Eugene Baker, vice president at OptumHealth’s Behavioral Solutions division)”
The article reviews innovative practices at OptumHealth, Nationwide Auto Insurance Company, Humana, Penn Treaty American Corp, Allstate, and the US Army. I am glad to see the media start to notice the importance of cognitive assessments and the growing activity by insurers.
– “Fear of memory loss, mental impairment and Alzheimer’s disease lead many consumers to search for products — from supplements to software — that claim to ward off such ailments,” Laura L. Carstensen, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, said. “Such products are becoming more prolific, but this burgeoning industry is completely unregulated and the claims can range from reasonable though untested, to blatantly false. It is important for consumers to proceed with caution before buying into many of these product claims. There is no magic bullet solution for cognitive decline.”
– The Summit’s (Note: held in April 2008) statement points out that “it would be wrong to conclude that nothing can be done to improve mental fitness.” But goes on to “strongly encourage research that compares the efficacy and the cost-effectiveness of different approaches to maintaining cognitive fitness.”