Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Fitness Programs For Seniors Housing, Healthcare and Insurance Providers: Evaluation Checklist

Dur­ing the research phase before the pub­li­ca­tion of the spe­cial report Brain Fit­ness Cen­ters in Seniors Hous­ing — A Field in the Mak­ing, pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Seniors Hous­ing Asso­ci­a­tion (ASHA), we real­ized that there were equal amounts of inter­est and con­fu­sion among exec­u­tives and pro­fes­sion­als think­ing about adding com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive exer­cise prod­ucts to their mix of health & well­ness activ­i­ties, so we includ­ed the Eval­u­a­tion Check­list that fol­lows.

The real-life expe­ri­ences at lead­ing orga­ni­za­tions such as Senior Star Liv­ing, Bel­mont Vil­lage Senior Liv­ing, Erick­son Retire­ment Com­mu­ni­ties and oth­ers were instru­men­tal in the devel­op­ment of the Check­list. We hope it is use­ful.

Brain Fit­ness Pro­grams For Seniors Hous­ing, Health­care and Insur­ance Providers: Eval­u­a­tion Check­list

Over the next sev­er­al years, it is like­ly that many seniors hous­ing oper­a­tors will begin to care­ful­ly eval­u­ate a grow­ing num­ber of options to include “brain fit­ness cen­ters” in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Some options will require pur­chas­ing a device, such as Nin­ten­do prod­ucts, or the Dakim touch-screen sys­tem. Oth­ers will require installing soft­ware in PCs in exist­ing or new com­put­er labs, such as Posit Sci­ence, Cogmed or CogniFit’s pro­grams. Oth­ers will be ful­ly avail­able online, such as those offered by Lumos Labs, Hap­py Neu­ron and My Vig­or­ous Mind. And still oth­ers may be tech­nol­o­gy-free, promis­ing engag­ing com­bi­na­tions of inter­ac­tive, group-based, activ­i­ties with pen-and-paper exer­cis­es.

Cre­at­ing a sol­id busi­ness case will help com­mu­ni­ties nav­i­gate through this grow­ing array of options. We sug­gest com­mu­ni­ties con­sid­er this Sharp­Brains Check­list for Brain Fit­ness Cen­ters:

1. Ear­ly Users: Who among our res­i­dents is ready and will­ing to do the pro­gram? How are they react­ing to the pilot test­ing of the pro­gram?

2. Cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits: What are the spe­cif­ic ben­e­fits claimed for using this pro­gram? Under what sce­nario of use (how many hours/week, how many weeks)? What spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive skill(s) does the pro­gram train? How will we mea­sure progress?

3. Return On Invest­ment: What are our key objec­tives, and how will we inde­pen­dent­ly mea­sure the progress due to this pro­gram so we can eval­u­ate the busi­ness case to expand, main­tain, or change course?

4. Appro­pri­ate Chal­lenge: Do the exer­cis­es adjust to the indi­vid­ual and con­tin­u­al­ly vary and chal­lenge res­i­dents at an appro­pri­ate pace?

5. Sci­en­tif­ic cre­den­tials: Are there sci­en­tists, ide­al­ly neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists, behind the pro­gram? Is there a clear­ly defined and cred­i­ble sci­en­tif­ic advi­so­ry board? Are there pub­lished, peer-reviewed sci­en­tif­ic papers?

6. Prod­uct roadmap: What is the prod­uct roadmap for this com­pa­ny? What is the com­pa­ny devel­op­ing and plan­ning to offer next year, and in 2 -3 years?

7. Tech­ni­cal require­ments: What are the tech­ni­cal require­ments need­ed to suc­cess­ful­ly deploy and main­tain the pro­gram? Does it require an Inter­net con­nec­tion? Who will help solve poten­tial glitch­es?

8. Staff train­ing: What type of train­ing will my staff need, and who will pro­vide it?

9. Total Cost of Own­er­ship: What may be the total cost of own­er­ship over the next 3–5 years if we go with this ven­dor: upfront fees, ongo­ing fees, hard­ware, soft­ware, train­ing and sup­port fees, cost of addi­tion­al mod­ules and staff time? How many res­i­dents will like­ly end up using the sys­tem, and there­fore what is the Cost of Own­er­ship per User?

10. Ref­er­ences: What sim­i­lar com­mu­ni­ties have used this spe­cif­ic pro­gram? What pro­por­tion of their res­i­dents use it reg­u­lar­ly? What ben­e­fits have they mea­sured and observed in their res­i­dents, and as a com­mu­ni­ty? Is the use of the pro­gram grow­ing, or is it flat or declin­ing?

Brain Fitness Centers in Seniors Housing - A Field in the MakingThe spe­cial report Brain Fit­ness Cen­ters in Seniors Hous­ing — A Field in the Mak­ing pro­vides an overview of the brain fit­ness field and four case stud­ies to shed light on the use of brain fit­ness cen­ters in seniors hous­ing com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing those oper­at­ed by Senior Star Liv­ing of Tul­sa, OK, Bel­mont Vil­lage Senior Liv­ing of Hous­ton, TX, and Erick­son Retire­ment Com­mu­ni­ties of Catonsville, MD. (Click here for pur­chase and down­load. $25)

Table of Con­tents
I. Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry
II. A Field in the Mak­ing: Oppor­tu­ni­ties and Open Ques­tions
III. Case Stud­ies: Senior Star Liv­ing, Bel­mont Vil­lage, Erick­son Retire­ment Com­mu­ni­ties.
IV. Nav­i­gat­ing through the Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram Land­scape
V. Con­clu­sions

Please Note: if you are an indi­vid­ual inter­est­ed in pro­grams for your­self and/ or a loved one, you can use these 10-Ques­tions to Find the Right Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram For You. The check­list above, and the spe­cial report, are aimed at help­ing pro­fes­sion­als mak­ing deci­sions on behalf of their orga­ni­za­tions.

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2 Responses

  1. Nick Almond says:

    This report is inter­est­ing and it address­es many very impor­tant ques­tions that cog­ni­tive neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists, such as myself have. I feel that many of the prod­ucts on the mar­ket now make claims which are gen­er­al­ly unsub­stan­ti­at­ed.

    I find it con­cern­ing that many of these pro­grammes have been mar­ket­ed to tar­get old­er adults in par­tic­u­lar with­out mak­ing any spe­cif­ic state­ment on whether the activ­i­ties are ben­e­fi­cial and have been sup­port­ed with empir­i­cal research.

    i have recent­ly con­duct­ed a cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tion study which used a large array of out­come mea­sures which focus on a num­ber of dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive func­tions. The mea­sures inves­ti­gat­ed both objec­tive and sub­jec­tive behav­iours. The results con­firmed that attempt­ing cryp­tic cross­words for one hour per day increased sub­jec­tive aware­ness of old­er adults own mem­o­ry. How­ev­er there was no evi­dence of a tan­gi­ble increase in episod­ic, ver­bal mem­o­ry with both recall and recog­ni­tion. There was also no evi­dence of increas­es in metacog­ni­tion. It is impor­tant to note that the inter­ven­tion peri­od was only six weeks. How­ev­er this demon­strates that there is a need for prod­ucts to be clear on what func­tions the activ­i­ty will pro­mote and whether it is affect­ed by any con­found­ing vari­ables. For exam­ple we found that the ben­e­fi­cial effects were more appar­ent in indi­vid­u­als with a low­er num­ber of years in edu­ca­tion. This is impor­tant because it is like­ly that peo­ple who pur­chase such inter­ven­tion prod­ucts will tend to have a high­er socio-eco­nom­ic sta­tus and sig­nif­i­cant­ly more devel­oped edu­ca­tion­al back­ground.

    Over­all, there is a need in psy­chol­o­gy for an over­haul of how we mea­sure cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions. We also need to ensure that we use the cor­rect method­ol­o­gy (i.e. with­in sub­jects designs) and that we used the sor­rect sam­ple pop­u­la­tion. Unfor­tu­natly many of the pre­vi­ous research which the cog­ni­tive reserve hypoth­e­sis and use-it-or-lose-it the­o­ry are based on have not done so.

  2. Nick, please see my answer to your com­ment here:

    Thank you

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