August 4, 2009
Paul Bright

A study funded by the National Institute of Health shows that brain fitness actually saves money in health care costs for the elderly. Using software developed by the San Franicso-based Posit Science Corporation, researchers tested the memory of over 2,800 adults aged 65 and older. For 10 hours a week of training during a six week period, the participants took place in classroom-style memory training and computer brain fitness exercises. They were followed for five years. The health outcomes were improved, as assessed by the SF-36 health-related quality of life survey.

When the groups were compared to a no-contact group, results showed that health care costs were significantly less per patient. The Posit Science software group’s healthcare costs showed the most significant savings of $244 less per patient. Even after the five-year period of no intervention, patients still paid $143 less per year. Considering that Medicare enrollee numbers can reach 61 million over the next ten years, the savings could be nearly $100 billion.

“The reduced costs were equal to about three-to-four percent of annual healthcare costs for Medicare patients at the time of the study,” said Dr. Frederic Wolinsky, University of Iowa Professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy

Henry Mahncke, vice president of Research at Posit Science, noted that “”This data indicates that we can have better health outcomes at significantly lower costs. It also suggests that ongoing brain fitness training benefits not just the individual, but the entire healthcare system.”

Apparently not only can computer training help senior citizen memory; videogames have seen a rise in popularity for them as well, particularly the Nintendo Wii. This Cleveland senior citizens center recently opened up the Brain Emporium. They use the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS video games to help improve their participant’s memories.