WEEKLY WORKOUT: Body & Brain Fitness To Help Prevent Dementia

Statistics show every four to seven seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  Those are sobering numbers, but there is growing evidence that staying physically and mentally fit can improve brain function and memory.

Lila Cherry has lived at Wesley Life’s Edgewater assisted living facility since it opened five years ago.

“I love it here.”

To her, age is just a number.  At times, she even forgets how old she is.

“Ask one of the girls,” she told us.  “They know for sure.”

At 90-years-old, Lila stays fit by working her body about three times a week during chair aerobics.  She also dedicates about the same amount of time to exercising her brain with the Dakim Brain Fitness computer program.

Each session last 20 to 25 minutes.  Lila is prompted to answer various questions and identify different objects.

“It’s very interactive,” said Sarah Mullins, the Lifestyle Coordinator at Edgewater.  “It’s very easy to use.  It’s all touch screen.”

Clinical trials conducted at UCLA show Dakim improves critical thinking, language, computation and both short and long term memory.

It also keep Lila engaged.

“It’s really geared toward this generation.  So they’ll show movie clips of Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable,” said Mullins.  “So, they really enjoy that.  It triggers positive memories.”

A grant from the state helped Wesley Life put at least one Dakim system into each of its Iowa facilities.

“We’re trying to branch out and bring innovative solutions to help support those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Heidi Long, Wesley Life’s director of Health and Well Being.

She says Dakim is just one element of a holistic approach to wellness.

“Anything that’s good for your heart when you’re exercising is also good for your mind.”

And what’s good for the heart and mind, is good for Lila.

“We just have a good time with it,” said Lila.  “I think it’s great.”