Get Smart About Brain Health

Improving brain health has become a hot topic among older adults — and consequently among those who work with this population. Activity directors and lifestyle coordinators across the country are trying to find the best solutions for residents who request “brain games” out of a desire to improve their memory and sharpen their cognitive skills

The fact is — and this is borne out by recent research — not all brain health programs are effective.

Online brain games – “small, narrow, and fleeting advances”

The Stanford Center on Longevity and Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Human Development commissioned a consensus report from nearly 70 scientists on the current state of research on brain training. The group evaluated the claims and promises being made for brain games that have participants practicing specific cognitive skills, and their consensus was that, in spite of some evidence for cognitive improvement, “these small, narrow, and fleeting advances are often billed as general and lasting improvements of mind and brain.” Their ultimate conclusion: “claims promoting brain games are frequently exaggerated and at times misleading,” and “exaggerated and misleading claims exploit the anxiety of adults facing old age for commercial purposes.”

In the absence of additional research, the group recommends that, rather than devote time to practicing brain games, “individuals lead physically active, intellectually challenging, and socially engaged lives, in ways that work for them.”

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