February 28, 2008
Contra Costa Times
Rofer Cormier and Sandy Cohen

As we grow older, we experience some “senior moments” of forgetting or not being able to recall something. On the surface we can make jokes about it, but deeper down it causes concern. Many seniors are discovering engaging brain fitness classes and replacing their worry with memory improvement and fun.

Science has shown that with aging our brains slow down, store less and function in a fuzzier way, in conjunction with weakening sensory organs such as eyes and ears. Such minimally reduced capacity does not equate with dementia and happily we can reverse some of the memory slippage through physical and mental exercise and nutrition.

For example, in normal aging we may temporarily forget someone’s name, whereas someone with dementia may not even recognize someone previously familiar to them. Mental exercises can improve our capacity to remember names by maximizing our ability to pay more attention and to better store and recall such information.

Teri Barr teaches brain aerobics classes and a computer-based brain fitness program for Oakland Adult and Career Education. Her classes delight students in their 50s through 90s with puzzles, games, critical thinking and logic exercises, spatial learning and Sudoku.

Asked for examples of memory improvement, Barr recalls a student in her 80s who improved her filing abilities at work, a daughter who is thrilled that her mother seems to be paying more attention to her, a student who can focus better and understand what is going on during televised football games, and students who now pride themselves in remembering people’s names.

For information on Barr’s classes, call 510-879-4090 or visit http://pvas.ousd.k12.ca.us. An information and demonstration meeting for the computer-based brain fitness program April 4 is required for anyone considering that program.

For similar opportunities, contact Mt. Diablo Adult School’s Mind Fitness Class at 925-685-7340; or your local adult school. Homebound seniors can sign up for free telephone participation in Brain Sparks activities by calling Senior Center Without Walls at 877-797-7299. For information on the brain fitness program, visit http://www.positscience.com or call 866-599-6463.

Growing Older is written by Sandra J. Cohen, R.N., and Roger Cormier, M.A., of Cohen Cormier Geriatric Care Managers, which provides care assessments, home care, placement assistance and care management. Reach them at 925-945-8855, 510-652-3377