Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain fitness centers in senior centers and retirement communities

abIn-house “brain fit­ness cen­ters” are becom­ing more com­mon in retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties, nurs­ing homes, and con­tin­u­ing care retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties (CCRCs) around the coun­try. These cen­ters are usu­al­ly com­posed of sev­er­al com­put­ers and a trained facil­i­ta­tor and they com­ple­ment exist­ing well­ness, social and enrich­ment activ­i­ties.

Based on mul­ti­ple inter­views with indus­try experts and pro­gram man­u­fac­tur­ers, we esti­mate that over 600 com­mu­ni­ties in the US, most­ly inde­pen­dent liv­ing and CCRCs, already offer com­put­er­ized brain fit­ness pro­grams to their res­i­dents. Not a week goes by with­out at least one such com­mu­ni­ty issu­ing a press release announc­ing the use of these pro­grams.

How­ev­er there are equal amounts of inter­est and con­fu­sion among exec­u­tives and pro­fes­sion­als think­ing about adding com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive exer­cise prod­ucts to their mix of health and well­ness activ­i­ties. This is why we devel­oped the Eval­u­a­tion Check­list that fol­lows, to help seniors hous­ing envi­ron­ments select pro­grams.

Sharp­Brains Check­list for Brain Fit­ness Cen­ters in Seniors Hous­ing

  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 any 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 uses 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?

Keep learn­ing by read­ing more arti­cles in the Resources sec­tion, and also please con­sid­er join­ing our free month­ly Brain Fit­ness eNewslet­ter

This new online resource is based on the con­tent from the book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (May 2009, $19.95), by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm and think tank tracking health and performance applications of brain science.