Have you or a family member ever felt frustrated by occasional memory loss or feeling like your brain is shrouded in fog? Cognitive decline is part of the normal aging process, but a regional study shows performing a few simple tasks each day can significantly enhance your brain health, both right now and into the future.
Through a partnership between Goodwin House Incorporated (GHI) and gerontology researchers at George Mason University, a new program called StrongerMemory has been shown to enhance cognitive function and stave off dementia. The 11-week study, which concluded this month, provided participants from GHI’s senior-living communities a daily curriculum of reading out loud, writing by hand, and completing basic math problems. The participants spent between 20 to 30 minutes each day, four times a week, engaged in these brain-building tasks.
From surveys taken before the program, the 21 study subjects at GHI’s senior-living communities in Alexandria and Bailey’s Crossroads expressed concern about the progressive loss of cognitive function and their fears of developing dementia.
At the end of the study, participants voiced satisfaction and enthusiasm for the program and were eager to incorporate the practices into their daily lives. When surveyed, they said “being cognitively fit” was as important to them as being “physically fit,” and they felt “highly motivated” to complete the tasks. After 11 weeks, these participants also reported feeling “less foggy” and were “able to remember things differently than before the program.”
The StrongerMemory program was created by Rob Liebreich, president and CEO of GHI, after observing his own mother’s challenges with mild cognitive impairment. Inspired by the SAIDO Learning program, Liebreich developed and implemented StrongerMemory, designed to stimulate the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which governs our ability to retrieve memories. “It’s not learning new things, it’s connecting brain function with what’s already in place,” Liebreich explains in a video describing StrongerMemory.
“After introducing a daily curriculum to read out loud, hand-write, and complete basic math quickly with my mother, our family saw significant changes for the better in a matter of a month,” said Liebreich. “Our goal now is to help 100,000 people by 2023 with the benefits of StrongerMemory. We plan to do this by offering the program for free and creating partnerships to reach those who would benefit.”
The Goodwin House has three workbooks on its website. The packets have exercises—eight pages of writing prompts, lists of ideas for reading out loud, and 11 pages of math questions. The writing prompts are thought-provoking and encourage recalling real-life observations and experiences. Download or request the free workbooks at goodwinhouse.org/stronger-memory.
One critical factor in a successful program: family members and caregivers who support the daily exercises with regular check-ins. “This has been a family affair from day one,” says Leibreich, who expresses gratitude to his parents for sharing their story.
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