Posts Tagged ‘Boomers Brain Fitness’

90 May Be the new 80

August 5, 2013

A small but growing body of evidence suggests that improved nutrition, vaccinations, health care and intellectual stimulation are leading to a better quality of life for the elderly.

New80Researchers in Denmark reported study results recently showing that people born in 1915 were almost a third more likely to reach 95 than those born a decade earlier, and on average they performed better on mental tests and in daily living tasks.

While the two groups were about the same in terms of physical strength, those in the 1915 group had a better “daily living score”, which was based on being able to walk around the house, get upstairs or live alone. Authors suggest the group was also aided by technology such as walking aids, threshold ramps and swivel seats.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the cognitive skills of people of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

Advertisements

Get Moving to Delay Dementia

May 15, 2013

Reducing Alzheimer’s risk factors like obesity, diabetes, smoking and low physical activity by just 25 percent could prevent up to half a million cases of the disease in the United States.

Experts believe that if you do only one thing to keep your brain young, it would be to exercise. Higher exercise levels can reduce dementia risk by 30 to 40 percent compared with low activity levels. Physically active people tend to maintain better cognition and memory than inactive people, and also have substantially lower rates of different forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Working outweighttraining1 helps the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in memory formation. The hippocampus shrinks as we age, leading to memory loss. Research suggests that exercise can reverse the shrinking process.

Experts recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate activity, but even as little as 15 minutes of regular exercise three times a week can be beneficial to the brain.

One study found that older women who participated in a weight training program did 13 percent better in terms of cognitive function than women who did balance and toning exercises. Researchers believe that resistance training may increase the levels of growth factors in the brain.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

Try These Mind Games for Mental Fitness

February 15, 2013

brainexercising1If, like many of us, you are a little nervous about your ability to remember things or stay focused on a project or activity, here are a few exercises you might want to try to keep your brain’s cognitive functions—memory, attention, language, visual/spatial skills and executive function—in good shape.

  • When listening to music, choose a song you don’t know and memorize the lyrics. This boosts the level of acetylcholine, the chemical that helps build your brain.
  • Shower or get dressed in the dark, or use your opposite hand to brush your teeth. These changes help build new associations between different neural connections of the brain.
  • Change your route to work or reorganize your desk. These simple changes will force your brain to wake up from habits and pay attention again.
  • Combine activities like listening to an audio book with jogging, or doing math in your head while you drive. This will force your brain to work at doing more in the same amount of time
  • Walk into a room and pick out five items and their locations. When you exit the room, try to recall all five items and where they were located. Wait two hours and try to remember those items and their locations.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at www.optimindsct.com.

Do We Trust More As We Age?

January 8, 2013

Financial exploitation of seniors—from telemarketing scams to identity theft, fake check scams and home repair fraud—costs an estimated $3 billion annually, and is becoming epidemic according to an official at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

A recent study funded by the National Institute on Aging suggests age-related changes in the brain make it harder to detect suspicious body language and other warning signs that people may be untrustworthy.

Researchers at UCLA set out to explore whether older adults perceive facial cues related to trustworthiness differently from younger adults. The researchers showed photographs of faces selected to look trustworthy, neutral or untrustworthy to a group of 119 older adults (ages 55 to 84) and 24 younger adults (ages 20 to 42). Signs of untrustworthiness included averted eyes, insincere smiles and a backward tilt of the head. The participants were asked to rate each face based on how trustworthy or approachable it seemed.

Results of the study show that older adults were significantly more likely than the younger ones to rate untrustworthy faces as trustworthy, and to miss facial cues that are usually easily distinguished.

A smaller group of participants performed the same task while the scientists used functional MRI to look at changes in brain activity. The functional MRI scans revealed significant differences in brain activity between the age groups. An area known as the anterior insula, which is associated with “gut feelings,” became more active in the younger subjects at the sight of an untrustworthy face. Older subjects, however, showed little to no activation in this area. This supports other research that found that older adults have a diminished ability to process negative stimuli compared with younger adults, resulting in a false sense of well being.

Future research is needed to determine whether this is because older adults are paying less attention to important social signals or whether their brains are somehow unable to process those signals.

Concerned about maintaining your mental capacity as you grow older? Check out our Optiminds Brain fitness programs that take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, plus improving cognitive and concentration power. Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Call us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Holiday Gifts to Improve Cognitive Function

December 22, 2012

If you’re looking for gifts this holiday season that might help a loved one who is trying to improve their cognitive skills, you might want to look into some of the ideas that follow.

  • Crossword puzzle or Sudoku books
  • Hand-held video games such as Solitaire, or Bingo
  • Board games like Tri-ominos, Scrabble, jigsaw puzzles with large pieces, or games such as Life Stories or Reminisce.
  • Books on Tape or MP3 players

You can also go a step further and treat a loved one to an Optiminds program in 2013.

If you have a senior citizen on your list to Optiminds’ Senior Brain Fitness Classes, which we conduct weekly at our Southfield location. The price is a mere $10 per session. Give us a call at 248-496-0150 for current times and days.

Each summer, Optiminds holds its popular Cognitive Camp at Royal Oak’s Addams Elementary School. Camp sessions are available by the day or week beginning in late June through mid-August. Check with our office for prices and schedule for 2013.

And of course, you can always treat yourself or students in your family to Optiminds’ tutoring services to give you and them an academic boost that will pay off for years to come.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at http://www.optimindsct.com.

When to Worry About Losing Your Memory

November 5, 2012

Everybody over a certain age, say, around 50, has experienced “senior moments.” You can’t locate the car keys or come up with the name of someone familiar. Or maybe you stride into a room with purpose and then forget why. You’ve probably wondered—when is a memory slip of the brain nothing to worry about, and when should it trigger a question to your doctor?

Here are some are some tips on when you should and should not worry about your memory, according to Harvard brain specialist Dr. Kirk Daffner:

Normal: Your ability to retrieve the names of friends, especially those you just met recently, is reduced or slower.

Red Flag: You consistently cannot recall the names of close friends or family.

Normal: You don’t immediately recognize somebody you meet outside of their usual context.

Red Flag: You have no recollection of having met a person you know.

Normal: You occasionally do not recall an event or conversation.

Red Flag: you consistently have no memory of events, even when others give you clues.

Normal: You occasionally make a wrong turn when you think you know where you are going.

Red Flag: You frequently get lost in familiar places.

Normal: You are sometimes slow to come up with a word you want.

Red Flag: Repeatedly, a word that was once familiar to you means nothing to you.

Source: “Senior Moments: A Sign Of Worse To Come?,’ NPR: April 11, 2011

Optiminds brain fitness programs, developed by Dr. Jane Stewart, take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, plus improving cognitive and concentration power. Find out how Optiminds programs for seniors can help you expand your cognitive capacity by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Cognitive Training May Make Seniors More Open to New Experiences

October 22, 2012

In addition to declines in cognitive abilities, including working memory and inductive reasoning, aging is often accompanied by changes in personality, such as shifts in openness or willingness to seek out new and cognitively challenging experiences. While a number of interventions have been designed to enrich cognitive functioning in older adults, little has been done to develop openness.

A study conducted on older adults involving 16 weeks of training in inductive reasoning demonstrated that participants were more willing to try new activities than a control group. The intervention consisted of a classroom-based inductive reasoning training program that focused on novel pattern recognition. Participants also did home-based Sudoku and crossword puzzles. Puzzle sets were matched to each person’s skill level based on his performance during the previous week, and increased in difficulty when appropriate.

Participants underwent personality trait and inductive reasoning tests before, during, and after the study. The authors reported that post-test openness scores were higher for the training group than for the control group.

The “use it or lose it” tag is often attributed to these types of studies and the results of the study suggest that “using it” also can lead people to view themselves as more open; openness to experience is linked to better health and decreased mortality risk.

The brain is a muscle and responds to strengthening and conditioning just like any other muscle in the body. If it doesn’t get exercise, it gets out of shape. At Optiminds, our focus is on helping you maintain your mental capacity as you grow older. Our brain fitness programs for seniors take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive and concentration power. This helps you to get your life back so you can start living again.

Ask us about our Senior Brain Fitness Classes, every Tuesday at 1:00 at our Southfield location.

Dr. Jane Stewart specializes in helping people of all ages improve their cognitive skills at two locations: The Brain Development Center in Novi and Optiminds in Southfield. Contact Dr. Jane Stewart at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com.

You can learn more about the Brain Development Center at: http://novipsych.com/brain_development and Optiminds at: www.optimindsct.com.

Aerobics for Your Brain?

September 15, 2012

If researchers and neurologists are correct, doing certain types of mental exercises just might buy you a bit more time with a healthy brain.

Simple things, such as playing memory games on your mobile device or jotting down letters backwards, may help our gray matter maintain concentration, memory and visual and spatial skills over the years. Even tweaking every day routines can help—for example, brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand; or crossing your arms the opposite way you’re used to.  You might even try flipping pictures of your house upside down. The exercise forces your brain out of its familiar grooves because every time you look at the upside down image, your brain has to rotate it. This gets your brain out of its ruts and shakes things up.

The idea of mental workouts marks a dramatic shift in how we understand the brain these days. We used to think that we were stuck with what we were born with, but now we understand that the brain is a lot more plastic and flexible than we thought. Challenging the brain stimulates neural pathways and boosts the brain’s chemistry and connectivity, refueling the entire engine.

Research shows that people who engaged in mentally challenging games do, in fact, show improvement in cognitive functioning. They get faster at speed games and stronger in memory games, for example. What’s less clear is whether this improvement transfers to everyday tasks, like remembering where you parked the car or the name of your child’s teacher.

Like diet and exercise, mental maneuvers may boost brain health in ways science still doesn’t understand. Hopefully a mix of these factors just mix might stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s and other age-related diseases.

Dr. Jane Stewart specializes in helping people of all ages improve their study, reading and cognitive skills at two locations: The Brain Development Center in Novi and Optiminds in Southfield. Contact Dr. Jane Stewart at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com.

You can learn more about the Brain Development Center at: http://novipsych.com/brain_development and Optiminds at: www.optimindsct.com.

Alzheimer’s Update

April 15, 2012

In the United States, some 5.4 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Of the ten deadliest diseases in the U.S., Alzheimer’s is the only one “without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

At the same time, there have been great advances in understanding the disease and national policy has begun to move forward as well. In 2011, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act mandated a national plan to coordinate research efforts to fight the disease which is predicted to impact 16 million by mid-century.

Also in 2011, new guidelines were issued for diagnosing the disease for the first time since 1984. Highlights include the following points:

  • Alzheimer’s must be viewed in three stages, with the first stage beginning long before the initial symptoms are recognized.
  • Diagnosis ultimately will include cognitive testing and general neurological assessments, along with medical tests that show changes in the brain—as opposed to relying largely  on a doctor’s judgment and reports from the patient and loved ones.

Cognitive skills are the underlying brain skills that make it possible for us to think, remember and learn. They allow us to process the huge influx of information we receive each and every day at work, at school and in life. Cognitive skills include a wide variety of abilities that are necessary for analyzing sounds and images, recalling information, making associations between different pieces of information, and maintaining focus on a given task.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

About the “Mature” Brain

February 8, 2012

While some of our capabilities naturally decrease as we age, research seems to support the notion that our ability to learn doesn’t necessarily decrease as we get older. Some people are much better than their peers at delaying age-related declines in areas such as memory and calculating speed. And researchers continue to look for answers to why this is so.

In 1995, an enormous national study of Americans was initiated to determine the role behavioral, psychological, and social factors play when it comes to how people age. The study is called “Midlife in the United States” or Midus. When it began, more than 7,000 people 25 to 74 years old were drafted to participate so that middle-agers could be compared with those younger and older. Midus is still going on today. Through Midus and other studies, researchers continue to uncover new information about our brains as we age.

For example, one of the brain’s most powerful tools is its ability to quickly scan a vast storehouse of templates for relevant information and past experience to come up with a novel solution to a problem. The older we are, the more information we have stored, which is probably why we associate wisdom with age—and why mental capabilities that depend most heavily on accumulated knowledge and experience—such as settling disputes and enlarging one’s vocabulary, get better over time.

Richard E. Nisbett, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Michigan, has long argued that when it comes to intelligence, experience can outrun biology. According to Nisbett: “Older people make more use of higher-order reasoning schemes that emphasize the need for multiple perspectives, allow for compromise, and recognize the limits of knowledge.” Most important, they discovered that despite a decline in fluid intelligence, complicated reasoning that relates to people, moral issues or political institutions improved with age.

Another finding, according to Margie E. Lachman, a psychologist at Brandeis University and one of the principal investigators for Midus: “Education seems to be an elixir that can bring us a healthy body and mind throughout adulthood and even a longer life.” For those in midlife and beyond, a college degree appears to slow the brain’s aging process by up to a decade.

All other things being equal, the more years of school a subject had, the better he or she performed on every mental test. Up to age 75, the studies showed, “people with college degrees performed on complex tasks like less-educated individuals who were 10 years younger.” Education was also associated with a longer life and decreased risk of dementia. “The effects of education are dramatic and long term,” Dr. Lachman says.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.


%d bloggers like this: