Beverly Sanborn, Vice President of Program Development at Belmont Senior Living and scheduled 2011 SharpBrains Summit Speaker, could not finally speak at the Summit (she was very well replaced by colleague Jeff DeBevec), but fortunately we can share her thoughtful answers to the following four critical questions.
1. How would you define “brain fitness” vs. “physical fitness”?
Brain fitness and physical fitness are interlinked. Each enhances the other and both are essential components of successful aging. As we age, the ability to cope with inexorable challenge to social-emotional-economic well-being is rooted in having a high level of mental alertness and a physical body that functions efficiently. But fitness is not just a happy consequence of a hardy gene pool. Fitness for both brain and brawn requires a committed effort, a lot of stretch and sweat, and the constant push to reach beyond the comfort zone.
2. Where do you see a significant opportunity for brain fitness innovation to improve the lives of a large number of people in the next decade?
As research defines with greater specificity the most effective protocol for maintaining brain fitness (and thus delaying the onset of dementia), the most significant opportunity for innovation lies in how to communicate this knowledge to the largest number of people, particularly to resource-poor, rural areas worldwide. Computer technology and the media will be the locus of innovation.
3. What is the one big challenge to the innovation?
Research money needs to evaluate technological, media, and training protocol in the context of effective, low-cost, practical programs for home use. This research should address best practices that translate research findings into brain and body fitness programs.
4. What are your main activities in the field and where can people learn more?
Belmont Village provides independent living, assisted living and dementia care in 19 settings throughout California, Chicago, and the southern United States. We have developed a range of programs that translate research into brain fitness opportunities for residents at all levels of ability: from no discernable memory loss to late stage dementia. Ours is a therapeutic, integrated, Just Right Challenge approach that encompasses a mix of cognitive, creative and physical activities offered daily in structured social groups. We are in the process of pilot-testing an evaluation of these programs, with plans to engage in a full-scale evaluation using an experimental design.
Please visit belmontvillage.com for more information. We encourage you to visit often, as our site will be expanding during the year.