Residents Find Brain Fitness Program Challenging and Fun
Date Posted : 08/20/2009
“It makes me think, and it is fun.” That is how Mary Sico describes the computerized brain fitness system that has been incorporated into the wellness program at the Heritage Woods of Huntley assisted living community.Sico moved into a one-bedroom apartment at Heritage Woods shortly after the community opened for occupancy earlier this summer. She has been using the system, which is designed to help reduce the risk of dementia, about four times a week.“I like to be challenged,” the retired school teacher says, and appreciates that using the system potentially can “counteract dementia.” Mary spent 36 years with the nearby Dundee and Burlington school districts, teaching remedial reading and first, second and third grades.“She is one of approximately 50% of our residents who are taking advantage of the Dakim Brain Fitness system,” says Susan Schaefer, Administrator of Heritage Woods of Huntley assisted living.The system, which takes advantage of touch-screen technology to make it easy for individuals with little or no computer skills to use, combines decades of brain health research aimed at preventing or delaying memory loss with enjoyable activities that can provide residents with valuable mental stimulation on a consistent basis.“The exercises are programmed into a game-show format and include stories, film and music clips, anagrams, and narrated literary passages with special effects,” says Schaefer. Games include Famous People and Little Known Facts, Word Matching and Jukebox Jitterbug. Questions require the use of short-term memory and deductive reasoning. “The system is highly individualized, automatically self-adjusting to reflect the ability level of the resident who is using the system at the time,” says Schaefer.For Mary, the math problems tend to be the most challenging.The exercises cover six areas of cognitive domain and are based on neurological tests and research.“All it takes for residents to get the most out of the system,” says Schaefer, “is a 20-minute session three to five times a week.”To ensure that residents using the system are not answering the same questions more than once, content is automatically updated every 24 to 48 hours. “Our focus at all of the communities that we manage is to maintain the health, wellness, dignity and independence of each resident,” says JoEllen Bleavins, Senior Vice President of Management for BMA Management, Ltd., the company responsible for managing Heritage Woods of Huntley. “We installed the brain fitness system because we recognize that experts have found that brain health is a ‘use it’ or ‘lose it’ proposition."In addition to the individualized brain fitness activities available through the Dakim BrainFitness program, Heritage Woods of Huntley regularly makes available group brain fitness activities coordinated by Lynn Mortensen, the community’s Resident Services Coordinator. Mortsensen also coordinates a wide variety of social and recreational programs and outings.“I do everything we have, from trivial pursuit to bingo,” says Mary, who was on her way to work on a craft project as soon as she completed her brain fitness activity. Just recently, she noted going to a picnic in the park, a concert at nearby Sun City Huntley, and on a scenic boat trip in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.Senior living provider BMA Management is dedicated to bringing more affordability to assisted living in Illinois.
Return to Current News