As more Canadians are living longer, the Memory Fitness® program was created with the goal of helping older adults rejuvenate their brain and slow the memory loss or cognitive decline associated with aging, using a recreational and fun approach.
Memory Fitness is Ottawa’s first holistic memory improvement and brain health maintenance program based on research-informed best practice. This program was developed using experience gained in adult rehabilitation and is offered to healthy older adults in the community and in retirement communities in the form of weekly one-hour sessions. The focus is on older adults who do not have a diagnosis of dementia; however, adults of all ages may benefit from this program.
Memory Fitness® is a customized program that incorporates the three components essential to brain health: physical exercise, cognitive exercise and social engagement. Each class starts with a short physical exercise routine that primes the brain for learning. The rest of the class is spent on a variety of brain exercises that target the major areas of cognition: attention, memory, language, executive function and visual-spatial skill.
The activities work to strengthen all the senses and to challenge the brain to do things that are outside of its regular routine. Activities include oral and written word and number tasks, auditory and visual memory tasks (stimulating both short and long term memory), as well as tasks directed at attention, abstract reasoning and problem-solving. Classes are fun, interactive and are led by a trained instructor.
Classes are customized based on the group’s preferences and abilities, and become increasingly challenging over time. Our program as a whole ensures that clients are getting cardio exercise, specific cognitive stimulation and are socially engaged. Satisfaction questionnaires have been overwhelmingly favourable, with most people noticing positive changes in their abilities after finishing a 10-12 week session.
Memory Fitness® has been offering free one-hour educational presentations on the subject of memory and the aging brain for the past three years to residents in retirement homes and seniors centres as well as through the Ottawa Public Library Health and Wellness program. Attendees have reported great enthusiasm regarding learning about how to improve brain health in aging and in learning practical ways of improving their memory.
For information on presentations near you, visit the Memory Fitness website.
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About The Authors
Dr. Frank Knoefel has over 20 years of experience in care of the elderly. For the last 10 years he has worked exclusively with memory disorders and is also conducting research in memory loss.
Maria Giovannitti is a retired Speech-Language Pathologist with over 20 years experience in neurological rehabilitation and has been delivering Memory Fitness classes for the past three years.