20 to 30 Hours of Brain Training Could Change Your Life

computer brainThe issue of falling down in the senior citizen community is a very big one – even seniors who have fallen and not been injured admit that it creates a new type of fear in them, and that in turn limits their activity.

We tend to think of the idea of preventing falls as things like re-designing a senior’s home, making sure they have someone to reach out to (or a Medical Alert system), and ideas of that nature.

But what if we thought about it differently?

New research is showing that brain exercises – which most people link to getting smarter or thinking through elements faster – can actually help you with balance. (There’s a surprising list of other things that help you with balance too.)

So – if a senior citizen could work on their mental acuity, their balance might improve? And that might be an impediment against falls?

Here’s how the studies worked:

The first study looked at 51 adults age 70 and older (mean age: 83), some of whom completed 30 hours of cognitive training over 10 weeks. Their computer-based brain exercises focused on speed of processing, attention and inhibition.At the beginning of the study, both groups were on the cusp of “high risk” for falls as defined by the CDC. Within months, the control group that did no training advanced into the high-risk category, while the brain-trained group did not. This group also had significantly better balance scores.\

The second study looked at 45 adults aged 65+ (mean age: 72) who are aging-in-place in their homes. The results were similarly encouraging: Just 20 hours of training showed statistically significant differences in fall risk, with balance improving among the intervention group and declining in the control group. They also found statistically significant improvements in gait speed in the intervention group.  

But – what does the medical/academic community think? Glad you asked:

Posit Science co-founder Jeff Zimman notes: “These two papers are significant because they indicate that improving various parts of the cognitive system that enable balance and mobility actually does actually improve balance and mobility,” he says.

Posit Science makes a game called BrainHQ, which is similar to Lumosity. Those are both effective tools for helping seniors (or any age, really) with advanced cognitive development.

The other basic idea is simply learning something new – most areas have a local university nearby, regardless of size, and most will have some type of Extended Education (or Continuing Education) program. Let’s say you never learned Spanish. Take a beginner class! There are parts that might be hard – learning a new language later in life is a challenge – but it will empower the connections in your brain. That can decidedly help with balance and mobility, which can benefit your overall life – especially if one of your concerns is “not slowing down” as you get older.

Thanks for visiting Advocare. We provide Medical Care Management, Home Care Management, Transition Care Management and Life Care Planning throughout the South Florida areas of North Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Palm Beach Island and more. 

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