When most people think about aerobics, they think of vigorous exercises, such as swimming or walking, designed to strengthen the heart and lungs. We all know that it's important to keep your body active, but what about your mind?
Western Michigan University Aging Services offers semester long classes designed to keep your brain active to help maintain cognitive functioning or slow cognitive decline. The Mind Aerobics™ program developed by the New England Cognitive Center is an evidence-based award winning program designed to provide older adults with comprehensive mental workouts that can maintain or improve cognitive functioning. These programs are developed to systematically stimulate six major cognitive domains of the brain, instead of focusing on only one or two cognitive skill areas like other programs. Most of our work focuses on helping individuals with mild, moderate or severe Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The program focuses on stimulating:
- Reaction time
- Visual/spatial relations
- Attention and concentration
- Problem solving
The New England Cognitive Center (NECC), a non-profit organization located in New London, Connecticut, develops and disseminates innovative, research-based cognitive fitness programs. NECC combines the latest advances in neuropsychological research with sound educational principles to create effective interventions that enhance brain health, independence and quality of life. The organization’s focus is on older adults who wish to maximize mental functioning and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
WMU Aging Services offers the following Mind Aerobics Suite of Cognitive Programs:
- Moderate cognitive decline
Lively Mind™ targets individuals who may have been diagnosed with mild or early-stage dementia. Decreased memory of recent events, problems in performing sequential tasks and difficulties with mental arithmetic may be noted. They generally require some assistance with independent living.
targets individuals who may have been diagnosed with moderate or mid-stage dementia. Major gaps in memory and other cognitive functions are frequently evident. These participants require some assistance with activities of daily living and may experience confusion about time and place. They generally live at assisted living, skilled nursing facilities or at home with 24-hour supervision.
Mind Aerobics classes are organized by cognitive level and participants are grouped into classes based on their cognitive function. Each level has 24 sessions over the course of 12 weeks. Classes are taught by trained Mind Aerobics instructors.