MarketWatch, 17 July 2019, Sarah Toy, People spent $1.9 billion last year on apps to keep their brains sharp as they age — here’s what actually works
Train Your Brain
“Sandra Wisham had never heard of cognitive training until her senior centre in Coral Gables, Fla, hosted a seminar on ageing and invited attendees to enrol in a brain-fitness course. Intrigued, she signed up.
“I want to remain independent as long as possible,” says Wisham, 76. She works hard to keep herself physically fit, going to weekly body conditioning and Zumba classes at the retirement centre. It made sense to her to do the same for her mind, she says.
Cognitive, or brain, training refers to exercises aimed at improving specific aspects of a person’s cognitive functions, such as processing speed, reasoning and memory. The exercises can be computer- or smartphone-based.”
Through the WI lens
Apps and computer programs that focus on brain health have been enjoying a burst in popularity, as more retirees becoming aware of the need to exercise their minds as well as their bodies, and to stave off mental decline as well as dementia. What this article finds is that there is no silver bullet: although a number of scientific studies have shown some evidence that when brain training tools have been used there’s a reduction in dementia and better retention of brain performance in specific areas, the benefits are piecemeal and certainly don’t represent a cure for Alzheimer’s. In combination with other measures, such as healthy diet, exercise and vascular monitoring, however, cognitive training can be even more effective.
What’s clear is that there’s a growing awareness that longevity is not an end in itself; it’s quality of life that matters and there will be a growing demand for all kinds of products, tools, training methods and activities that can contribute towards preserving our mental faculties. It’s become expected for hotels, parks and public authorities to offer physical exercise facilities; perhaps it’s time they considered it normal to offer mental exercise too?
What this article goes on to explain is how positive thinking – described here as ‘thriving’ – can counter the effects that come from the negativity outlined above, from reduced memory to diminished performance. Based on studying people in a series of organisations in different industries, one of the authors has found that people who attain this state are more resilient, experience less burnout, and are more confident in their ability to take control of a situation
“Behind the jargon what this is really about is how we address the challenge of biodiversity under threat, move away from fossil materials like plastic and concrete, and use nature in a sustainable way, all of which could be summed up by “living in harmony with nature”.”
“In the new ‘consensual contract’ between employer and worker, what’s required is a commitment from the employer to safeguard the wellbeing of their people, and a commitment in return from employees to take personal responsibility for their performance of their job.”
“Could loneliness not only be damaging our mental and physical health but also be making the world a more aggressive, angry place? And if so, what are the implications for a cohesive society and democracy?”
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”