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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:
    http://tinyurl.com/3t5wjd

    Thank you

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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