Posts Tagged ‘resource’

Happiness Is Growing Old at Home

Friday, September 17th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) member Maria Tadd has penned a practical and timely book addressing an important, contemporary issue. Published by the Terrapin Press of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, it is titled Happiness Is Growing Old at Home and subtitled Discover New Ways to Help Your Aging Parent Remain Independent.

The publisher’s description, reprinted below, provides a good overview of the 269-page book’s contents:

  • Innovative options provide quality and compassionate care, many at reduced costs.
  • New, easy-to-use, high-tech devices facilitate independent living.
  • Living a healthy lifestyle will help your parents age in place.
  • Detailed questionnaires will assist you in evaluating health care agencies and rehab facilities before you sign on the dotted line.
  • Sample flowcharts, schedules and logs will help keep you and your parent organized and will make sure that all caregivers are on the same page.
  • An extensive, annotated list of websites provides volumes of information.
  • Maria Tadd, a freelance medical writer, is a graduate of the New England School of Acupuncture and a life-long student of holistic health, meditation and nutrition. For more information about Happiness Is Growing Old at Home, click on


    New From SFA

    Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    The American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) is pleased to present our new
    "In the News," feature for those interested in more timely older adult health, fitness, and quality of life information. Our "In the News" articles, which are also available on Facebook, feature older adult fitness and health information for your own use or to share with your fitness clients. These articles will be archived under the "Senior Fitness News" topic.


    Starring YOUR Senior Fitness Clients

    Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    SFA recently received an exciting message from Alexis Gutter, editorial assistant at AARP The Magazine:

    "We have an ongoing section called ‘Imagine If’ that features seniors fulfilling dreams. This could be anything from jumping out of a plane to taking karate classes to white water rafting."

    Ms. Gutter asked us to spread the word among our membership to encourage people to tell the magazine what they’re up to. Interested seniors who are fulfilling long-time dreams and would like to be photographed in the magazine while doing so should let the editors know at



    Senior Living Models Revisited

    Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Following is a very interesting article by Kay Van Norman, longtime friend of the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA). While extolling the senior living industry’s movement to promote whole-person wellness among older adult residents, she asks some hard questions about today’s "conventional wisdom" on the subject.

    We invite you to read Van Norman’s insightful — and controversial — essay "Creating Purpose-Driven Communities" and weigh in with your ideas and comments. You may do so here or on our Facebook page.

    Kay Van Norman, MS, is a member of the National Advisory Board of the American Senior Fitness Association and is an internationally known author, speaker and leader in the field of exercise and wellness programming for adults over 50. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, she authored Exercise Programming for Older Adults (1995) and its revision Exercise and Wellness for Older Adults (2010), which includes a full chapter on psychosocial aspects of health behaviors, a chapter on programming for senior living environments, and a section on strength and power training. She directed the Keiser Institute on Aging from 2000 to 2003, and currently serves on the boards of the National Council on Aging’s Health Promotion Institute and the International Council on Active Aging. Van Norman, whose business is named Brilliant Aging, can be reached at

    This article was originally published in the Journal on Active Aging(R) (September/October 2009), and appears here with the permission of the International Council on Active Aging(R), All rights reserved.


    Creating Purpose-Driven Communities

    Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Publisher.

    This active-aging expert offers an unflinching look at current senior living models and invites an industry-wide conversation about where we go from here.

    by Kay Van Norman, MS

    Senior living products and services have evolved steadily over the past 20 years. Medical model nursing homes are giving way to person-centered approaches and models such as the Eden Alternative. Assisted living and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) have beautiful spaces, lovely grounds and excellent food served restaurant style. Whole-person wellness has emerged as a gold standard for quality programming, and senior living professionals are dedicated to improving resident quality of life (Edelman & Montague, 2006). However, in spite of everything, the majority of current residents are not engaged in offerings, and many frail older adults fight with every ounce of determination not to move into senior living communities.

    This article invites you to take an unflinching look at where we are and contemplate where we go from here. It’s an opportunity to evaluate if current senior living models will support or restrict continued growth and innovation; and discuss, what if.

    What if we reevaluated the senior living priorities presented in marketing materials? What if we took age out of the equation and compared services offered young people with disabilities to services provided frail adults with “age-related” disabilities? What if we consciously and consistently integrated research on quality-of-life indicators into applied operations? And what if instead of creating lots of activities to support meaning and purpose, we created purpose-driven senior living communities?

    Priorities disconnect

    Let’s consider how senior living is commonly portrayed to community-dwelling older adults. Assisted living and CCRC marketing materials highlight what companies believe are the priorities of potential clients:

  • safety
  • security
  • closeness to healthcare
  • help with activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • home-like environment
  • activities
  • low stress
  • lack of responsibility
  • Unfortunately, they also expose underlying negative attitudes and expectations about aging.

    For instance, boasting of proximity to healthcare and hospitals exposes the expectation that residents will likely have a health crisis at any moment, so—because of age—should be close to doctors and a hospital. Another common message? Have staff take care of everything so residents have plenty of time for leisure. This message reinforces the concept of “retirement” as a time for rest, relaxation and fun activity; it also suggests that no one expects older adults to contribute to the daily business of life. In fact, a Webster’s dictionary published in 1972 defines “retire” as “to withdraw, retreat, or recede.” A large percentage of older adults, especially Baby Boomers, value something different (Edelman & Montague, 2006).

    Marketing efforts that use fear as a motivator are especially problematic. One showed a worried-looking couple in front of their house while listing all the reasons they should move:

  • They weren’t capable of maintaining the steep roof and big yard.
  • How could they get to the doctor through heavy traffic?
  • Old neighbors had moved, and none of these “young” neighbors looked out for them.
  • Wow! I know connecting emotionally is effective, but a fear-based approach reinforces negative stereotypes and gives the impression that moving to senior living is “giving up.”

    Regardless of marketing strategies, we need to examine if the priorities we present in marketing are the same priorities potential clients hold dear. We have to be willing to ask the hard questions. For example:

  • If these are the real priorities of our potential customers, why do so many people resist moving into senior living?
  • Why don’t more current residents regularly engage in offerings?
  • Would older adults embrace completely new senior living options if they existed?
  • Smith and Mullen (2007) compared awareness of and attitudes towards independent living, assisted living, CCRC and active adult communities between 1998 and 2007. Results showed a significant increase in the awareness and usage of all types of age-qualified properties, while thedesirability of these properties as a place to live remained the same or decreased. Most declines in the appeal of senior housing occurred in households 70-plus years of age. The appeal of independent living communities went from 64% to 55% among households aged 70–74, and from 65% to 55% among households aged 75-plus. The appeal of assisted living also decreased, from 60% to 50% for ages 70–74 and from 61% to 52% for ages 75-plus.

    If senior living priorities matched consumers’ priorities, shouldn’t senior living—with all its innovations—be more, rather than less, appealing? Smith and Mullen concluded that mature consumers may still think of these properties as a place where they might “need to move,” instead of “want to move.” To improve the desirability of senior housing, the researchers continued, advertising and word of mouth should be used to elicit attitudinal changes. Perhaps a better strategy is to consider changing the product to more closely match potential clients’ needs and priorities.

    Consider different priorities

    Age demographics will drive growth in senior living, but there is an opportunity for so much more. What would it take for potential clients to want to move in, rather than wait until they “have to”? What makes living in their own home, even if they’re having difficulties, preferable to living in a CCRC or assisted living community? What are they afraid of losing if they move from their home?

    I don’t know the answers yet, but believe the right questions are being asked in behavioral and quality-of-life research. Unfortunately, little of this research is disseminated to senior living practitioners and even less is integrated into daily operations. We know how to meet basic needs for shelter, food, safety and personal care. Understanding how to meet other basic human needs is less obvious—the need to love and be loved, give as well as receive, be of value to others, and have feelings of competence and control.

    Clues are embedded in research exploring resiliency, self-efficacy, self-esteem, self-responsibility and optimism. These personal assets help people overcome obstacles and find life satisfaction, regardless of circumstances. Senior living professionals can use behavioral and quality-of-life research to develop strategies and policies that consciously and consistently support these assets. (See below for a listing of resources and references.)

    Asking more hard questions

    We also have to start asking ourselves uncomfortable questions about the opportunities we provide residents. Why, even in program-rich environments, do only 20–30% of residents regularly participate in offerings? Are we providing what we can—what is logical based on expectations—or what potential residents really need and want? Do we unintentionally limit opportunities based on what we think residents are capable of?

    For example, compare differences between independent living and assisted living programming. Before you identify things that residents with significant physical and cognitive limitations simply cannot do, however, I want you to contemplate something: Thirty years ago people with profound disabilities were housed in facilities where they were sheltered, fed, clothed, and provided personal care; there were no expectations, few opportunities, and no hope for anything different. The disability movement dramatically changed attitudes, expectations and environments. Gradually people with even profound disabilities began accomplishing amazing things, revealing the tragic waste of human potential imposed by low expectations.They demonstrated how individuals could overcome seemingly insurmountable barriers when immersed in an environment of encouragement, positive expectations, adaptive strategies, support, and most of all hope. (For a snapshot of what is possible, read “Kyle Maynard: rising to the occasion.”)

    Senior living has worked hard to provide opportunities. But, back to the uncomfortable questions, how do our attitudes, expectations and environments impact resident interest and engagement? What role do they play in outcomes? Which aspects of the physical and emotional environments of senior living communities support feelings of value, competence and control? Which ones don’t? What specific operational strategies are consciously and consistently applied to build the personal assets of self-efficacy, resiliency, self-esteem, self-responsibility and optimism?

    Learning from the disability movement

    It’s interesting to compare the level of opportunities and services offered to youth with disabilities versus older adults. For example, a major goal of disability policy is to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in the mainstream of society. Another is for people with disabilities to be treated as first-class citizens (Batavia & Schriner, 2001). However, most disability legislation has an age cutoff of 65. The inability to perform ADLs or IADLs (instrumental activities of daily living) poses certain challenges no matter the person’s age, yet someone who becomes disabled after age 65 will not receive the same services as another with the exact same disabilities who becomes disabled before that age (Jonosn & Larsson, 2009).

    Why are young people with disabilities given encouragement, resources and opportunities to overcome and live fully in spite of disabilities, while older people are primarily given strategies to cope? There is a profound difference between outcomes derived from a mindset of coping with disabilities verses a determination to live fully regardless of disabilities.

    In Sweden, for instance, traveling for a weekend outing is considered a “normal” activity for a young person, so disabled young people are afforded a personal attendant to allow them to travel just like anyone else. Frail older adults, often with similar disabilities, are not afforded that opportunity, according to Jonosn and Larsson (2009). Disability legislation discounts age-related disabilities as “normal aging,” and literature suggests that the “situation is justified by healthcare and service personnel who refer to older people as being content with staying in nursing homes,” the researchers add. Ouch! This is a concrete example of how negative attitudes and expectations of aging shape behaviors, interactions and outcomes.


    The disability movement strives to provide individuals with what they need to help them contribute to the community and be self-sufficient and self-responsible to the greatest extent possible.Why then should older adults with functional limitations be placed in environments where they are no longer expected to contribute to the greater community?

    I know the frustrations; many residents resist doing anything. But how much does ageism impact personal expectations, expectations of others, and the created environments? One thing I know for sure is that without feelings of value, competence and mastery, without meaning and purpose, what is wrong becomes bigger than what is right and what a person cannot do becomes bigger than what a person can. (See “Nora Belle” for a personal account about the power of purpose.)

    What would senior living be like if we shifted our mindset from “taking care” of residents to creating the optimal environment for continued growth and contribution, regardless of age or functional restrictions? What if, from the first moment of project conception, discussions about the look of the project were secondary to deciding how to develop the property to support residents’ needs to give as well as receive, be of value to others, stay connected and engaged, and feel competent and in control of their own lives? How would the building and site be designed, operations developed, and marketing created if we prioritized support for self-efficacy, self-responsibility, self-esteem, optimism and resiliency? What if we created purpose-driven communities? (For some “what ifs” to consider about purpose-driven communities, see the sidebar below.)

    Purpose-driven communities: some ‘what ifs’ to consider

    Creating purpose-driven communities would require us to rethink the optimal locations for senior living. Instead of boasting about closeness to hospitals and doctors, we could look for locations that offer opportunities to contribute to the greater community.

  • What if communities were built next to an animal shelter, recycling center, elementary school, boys and girls club, or food bank? Residents would realize from their first contact with the senior living community that they were viewed as important assets to the greater community. They could envision how each individual’s contribution could be vital to the success of community programs.
  • What if instead of perfectly manicured lawns, the grounds boasted organic gardens, where residents and staff grew organic vegetables for the local schools, day care centers, food banks and hospitals (plus their own meals)?
  • What if a community was designed around residents developing and maintained a living history farm, demonstrating techniques used by homesteaders to make a living and raise a family? What a terrific educational asset to community schools!
  • What if residents maintained a working organic farm with cows, chickens and gardens to provide the community with organic products, as well as to demonstrate "green" concepts in action?
  • Existing senior living communities can also create strategic partnerships with the greater community.
  • What if the senior living "café" was known in the community for the best lunches in town and also encouraged local artists to hang artwork and local talent to perform?
  • What if residents and staff identified a cause to support with their effort, expertise and time–the environment, education, political causes, children’s causes, animal causes, world hunger?
  • Every school has fundraisers to support sports, academic or special interest programs. What if a senior living community "adopted" a school program or programs and helped them with fundraisers?
  • Compelling reasons to change

    The senior living industry has been steadily changing. Now it’s time for a major revolution. We’ve created nice models and a wide range of excellent activities to entice resident participation, but it’s important to acknowledge that being occupied is not the same as being engaged. Clearly, something is missing when a large percentage of our customers don’t consider our product desirable.

    We need to support our residents’ ability to give as well as receive, be of value to others, and feel competent and in control of their lives. It’s also time to observe and learn how the disability movement helps individuals live fully, even with profound disabilities. We need to evaluate which of our approaches and policies support and which ones diminish the personal assets necessary for people to live well in spite of challenges.

    It’s difficult to change an entire mindset and the momentum of established approaches, but the reasons for evolving are compelling. Shame and regret accompany our look back on the journey of disabled people in our society. We now possess the insight to prevent such negative attitudes and expectations from confining frail older adults. In addition, a tremendous opportunity for innovation exists right now. Baby Boomers cut their teeth on the concept of supporting “causes.” They’ve marched against injustice, invested in socially responsible companies, purchased “green” products, and advocated for civic responsibility. These consumers will be drawn to senior living communities that value residents as assets to the greater community. Purpose-driven goals will merge with whole-person wellness programs to ensure residents have choices between activity/engagement for personal growth and entertainment, and activity/engagement for a greater purpose.

    So I invite you to open your minds and consider the possibilities. Read behavior and life satisfaction research and realign priorities. Look into programs for young people with mental and physical disabilities to learn how they facilitate living fully with disabilities. Seek opportunities to really partner with programs in the greater community. Envision innovations as a developer, executive director, marketing director or programs coordinator, and consider what this new paradigm would mean for designs and development, operations, employee training and marketing.

    Real change will require a fundamental shift in organizational missions, goals and strategies. But we need to start with a sincere and open-minded industry-wide conversation. Is your organization up to the challenge?


    Batavia, A., & Schriner, K. (2001). The Americans with Disabilities Act as Engine of Social Change: Models of Disability and the Potential of a Civil Rights Approach. Policy Studies Journal, 29(4), 690.

    Chappell, Jr, J. A: (1994). The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. American Rehabilitation, 20(1), 23.

    Edelman, P., & Montague, J. (2006). Whole-Person Wellness Outcomes in Senior Living Communities: The Resident Whole-Person Wellness Survey. Senior Housing and Care Journal, 14(1), 21–33.

    Guillory, M. D., & Moschis, G. (2008). Marketing Apartments, Townhouses, and Condominiums to Seniors. Seniors Housing and Care Journal, 16(1), 39–51.

    Jonosn, H., & Larsson, A. (2009). The exclusion of older people in disability activism and policies: A case of inadvertent ageism? Journal of Aging Studies, 23(1), 69–77.

    Shapiro, A., & Taylor, M. (2002). Effects of a community-based early intervention program on the subjective well-being, institutionalization, and mortality of low-income elders. Gerontologist, 42(3), 334.

    Smith, E. R., & Mullen, A. J. (2007). Trends in Awareness, Attitudes, and Usage of Retirement and Age-Qualified Properties: Findings from a National Survey of Households 60 Years of Age and Older. Seniors Housing and Care Journal, 15(1), 19–29.

    Ten research resources for suggested reading

    1. Bandura, A. (1997). Self efficacy: The exercise and control. New York NY: Freeman.
    2. Benjamin, K., Edwards, N. C., & Bharti, V. K. (2005). Attitudinal, perceptual and normative beliefs influencing the exercise decisions of community-dwelling physically frail seniors. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 13, 276–293.
    3. Bradley, D. E., & Longino, C. F. (2001). How older people think about images of aging in advertising and the media. Generations, Journal of the American Society on Aging, 3, 17–21.
    4. Coalman, M. (2007). Positive psychology: a new way to support wellness in older adults? Journal on Active Aging, 6(4), 51–55.
    5. Cohen, G. D. (2005). The mature mind. The positive power of the aging brain. New York NY: Basic Books.
    6. Edelman, P., & Montague, J. (2006). Whole-Person Wellness Outcomes in Senior Living Communities: The Resident Whole-Person Wellness Survey. Senior Housing and Care Journal, 14(1), 21–33.
    7. Maynard, K. (2005). No excuses. The true story of a congenital amputee who became a champion in wrestling and in life. Washington DC: Regnery Publishing.
    8. Ray, O. (2004). How the mind hurts and heals the body. American Psychologist, 59(1), 29–40.
    9. Semerjian, T., & Stephens, D. (2007). Comparison style, physical self-perceptions, and fitness among older women. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 15, 219–235.
    10. Wise, J. B., & Trunnell, E. P. (2001). The influence of sources of self-efficacy upon efficacy strength. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 23, 268–280.

    NeoCORTA for Proactive Brain Fitness

    Friday, July 16th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    The American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) strongly urges older adult fitness providers to help clients achieve whole-person wellness, which includes taking practical evidence-based steps to optimize brain health.To that end, SFA’s respected professional education program Brain Fitness for Older Adults teaches senior fitness leaders how to integrate cognitive fitness into their physical activity services. To credibly and confidently offer such guidance, senior fitness specialists need a basic understanding of: (1) brain anatomy and physiology; (2) social, emotional, lifestyle and other impacting factors; and (3) how to make current research actionable in the older adult health-fitness setting. SFA’s popular distance-learning course, Brain Fitness for Older Adults, provides these necessary foundations.

    Today, we are pleased to announce SFA’s endorsement of a related resource, the NeoCORTA proactive brain fitness service, which is exceptionally compatible for use with SFA’s study program and brain fitness activity plans. Together, SFA and NeoCORTA professional tools well-equip senior fitness instructors, trainers, and program directors to provide their mature clientele with comprehensive, state-of-the-art cognitive fitness support.

    Founded in 2008, NeoCORTA is an internet-based service that applies assessment and predictive modeling capabilities in its mission to enable adults to maintain and improve their brain fitness. Its Brain Fitness Check-up assesses each person in 32 key areas and uses this data to forecast specific changes in each individual’s brain fitness status. Each user receives a Personal Brain Fitness Report, which relates their results and suggests specific actions (physical activities, lifestyle changes, nutritional corrections, etc.) that will help them reach their personal brain fitness objectives.

    NeoCORTA’s assessment and analytical procedures utilize scientific findings from more than 200 major studies, including extensive data from the NIH Healthy Brain Project. NeoCORTA’s instruments were designed by Dr. Jay Chyung, who earned his MD and PhD in Neurobiology from Harvard Medical School and has led research on the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and mood disorders.

    The NeoCORTA Check-up is a questionnaire that users can complete privately at their own pace. This typically takes fewer than 45 minutes, after which each person’s data is analyzed to produce a unique, detailed report for each individual. NeoCORTA evaluates 9 direct measures of cognition and emotion that indicate current brain fitness status, plus 23 key influencers that can cause changes in brain fitness over time. Included are:

  • Key Measures of Cognition. Cognition involves processing, coordinating, strategizing, and responding to information. It includes critical brain functions such as the ability to remember, pay attention, and make decisions. NeoCORTA measures cognition in 4 main areas: Memory, Attention, Processing Speed, and Executive Function.
  • Key Measures of Emotion. Emotional well-being allows one to calmly handle day-to-day challenges, maintain a positive outlook, adapt to change, and understand and care for others. NeoCORTA measures emotion in 5 areas: Anxiety, Stress, Mood, Emotional Control, and Emotional Recognition.
  • Key Influencers of Brain Fitness. NeoCORTA measures 23 variables in 4 domains that can affect long-term brain fitness: Lifestyle and Behaviors (physical activity, diet, etc.); Psychosocial Factors (social support, optimism versus negativism, etc.); Medical Status (cardiovascular health, medications, etc.); and Functional Status (sleep patterns, hearing, etc.).
  • SFA president Janie Clark says, "With NeoCORTA, senior fitness professionals can help clients appraise their brain fitness status, anticipate potential changes, and personalize a practical action plan. It’s easy, economical, and science-based. Whether you manage a large facility or operate a one-trainer business, this presents an excellent opportunity to expand your professional services and better serve your older adult fitness clients."


    How NeoCORTA Promotes Older Adult Brain Health

    Friday, July 16th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    In the interview segments presented below, Kathryn Thomas, PhD, NeoCORTA’s Director of Business Development, provides additional information for SFA members and Experience! readers.

    SFA: Can you supply more details about the assessment process and how it works in practice?

    NeoCORTA: In recent years, scientists have conducted hundreds of studies to better understand the key drivers of change in the human brain. Most of us are curious about our brain health and would like to identify the steps we can take to maintain or improve it. But until now, there has never been a practical or reliable way to measure and manage how we think and feel.

    NeoCORTA empowers adults with the tools they need to measure, maintain, and improve their brain fitness. Designed by a Harvard-trained doctor, our service enables individuals to determine their baseline, identify their risk factors, and design a brain fitness action plan that fits their unique needs, goals, and preferences.

    The process is actually quite simple for the user. Each person completes an internet-based questionnaire that explores the 32 key variables that define and influence how we think and feel. The questionnaire is self-paced, but most people complete it in 20 to 40 minutes. A few days after completing the questionnaire, each person receives his or her Personal Brain Fitness Report via email. This 12-page report summarizes the person’s current status and explains any noteworthy risk factors. It also provides a carefully tailored list of the critical few actions that are most likely to help the person achieve his or her brain fitness goals. The report explains everything in plain English, so it’s easy to understand and take action.

    SFA: Please share a couple of hypothetical examples showing how the process can benefit mature adults.

    NeoCORTA: Generally speaking, the Brain Fitness Check-up provides several important benefits: It introduces folks to the key measures of brain fitness; it allows them to track their abilities over time; and it provides the unbiased, expert direction they need in order to enjoy happier, more productive lives. But since the recommendations are tailored to each person’s goals, needs, and preferences, the specific benefits can vary significantly.

    For example, imagine the case of a 50 year old woman who currently has satisfactory scores on all of the key measures of brain fitness. Imagine, though, that she is also living the lifestyle of a typical "couch potato": physically inactive, overweight, socially isolated, and mentally understimulated.This person would learn that her current lifestyle is creating significant long-term risks in memory, attention, and other key measures of cognition. To address these risks, her action plan might recommend that she sign up for a group aerobics class — a heart-healthy, mentally challenging activity that’s done with others who can help to encourage her. The plan might also encourage her to do some volunteer work, adopt the "Mediterranean" diet, and work more closely with her doctor to control her cholesterol and blood pressure.

    For this woman, the key benefit of using NeoCORTA’s service is a reduced risk of future decline, achieved through the adoption of a heart-healthy (and therefore brain-healthy) lifestyle before it’s too late. Most folks are already aware of the physical downsides of living life as a couch potato. But studies have shown that most adults age 50-plus care more about their brains than their bodies. So NeoCORTA’s service uses this woman’s curiosity about her brain health to provide the extra motivation she needs to take action.

    Now compare that woman’s circumstances to the case of a 71 year old retired engineer who lives in an "active adult" retirement community. This man remains socially engaged through a large group of friends and organized events in his community. He experiences chronic pain due to a few nagging sports injuries, but he is in excellent overall health and walks two to four miles each morning. This individual’s results indicate that he currently has minor deficits in attention, stress, anxiety, and emotional control. The results also indicate that he is not sleeping well and that his level of alcohol consumption might be adversely affecting both his current and future brain health.

    In this case, the man’s action plan might suggest replacing some of his daily walks with a meditative yoga class. Like walking, yoga provides beneficial physical exercise, but the right class can also address his chronic pain, attention, stress, anxiety, and emotional control. Progress in these areas would be expected to help with his sleep problems, but this action plan would also include a list of additional suggestions for improving the quality of the man’s sleep. And finally, the plan would encourage the man to reduce his alcohol intake, an effort that would probably become easier as he addresses his pain, stress, anxiety, and sleep problems.

    In this case, a generally motivated person learns that a few specific adjustments can help to address a shortlist of immediate needs. Though he would not normally consider an activity such as yoga, he is convinced to give it a try by the personalized, evidence-based justification provided in the report. In the end, the key benefit for this person is a noticeable near-term improvement in quality of life.


    Senior Fitness Providers: You Can Excel in the Brain Fitness Movement

    Friday, July 16th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Below, SFA’s exclusive interview with NeoCORTA’s Dr. Thomas turns toward practical applications in the older adult health-fitness field.

    SFA: How can senior fitness professionals use NeoCORTA’s service to assist their older adult fitness clients?

    NeoCORTA: From a purely practical standpoint, integrating NeoCORTA’s brain fitness service into your existing operation is probably much easier that you’d imagine. The service was carefully designed to ensure that it creates no additional burdens or disruptions for your operation or staff. Since the service is entirely internet-based, your clients can complete the questionnaire from anywhere, at any time. You simply distribute coupon codes to your clients, and they complete the questionnaire on their own. NeoCORTA handles all of the burdens and distractions of report processing and user support.

    Meanwhile, several fascinating studies have shown that physical fitness and brain fitness are closely linked.For example, a long-term study of 1,500 adults found that those who were obese in middle age were twice as likely to develop dementia in later life. Since surveys have also consistently shown that older adults fear memory loss more than heart disease, senior fitness professionals can attract, motivate, and retain more clients by integrating NeoCORTA’s brain fitness tools into their programs.

    In addition, a recent AARP survey found that adults age 50-plus believe that health information is often too general or vague. Survey participants indicated that they are hungering for specific/detailed goal setting, individualized plans, and progress tracking. Clearly, NeoCORTA enables you to provide exactly what these 50-plus clients are seeking. But by doing so with a technology that eliminates the administrative burdens, you can devote your time and attention to client services instead of paperwork.

    In summary, NeoCORTA’s approach is singularly powerful because it helps your clients understand the brain fitness benefits of physical activity. At the same time, it arms you to quickly and easily expand the scope of your services to include an important new component of the fitness movement. Adding brain fitness services will enable you to attract a whole new population of clients, increase participation and retention rates, and generate even greater impact in the lives of your clients. As a profession, it moves us one step closer to achieving the vision of true whole-person wellness.


    Meet the Experts

    Friday, July 16th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    NeoCORTA’s management team includes:

  • Patrick Brannelly, MBA, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Brannelly holds a BA in Psychology from Harvard College and his MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Association, National Capital Chapter, and as an Adjunct Professor of Marketing and E-Commerce at the University of Northern Virginia. He is a frequent speaker on brain fitness issues at state and national conferences. His previous experience includes serving as Director of Group Programs at Posit Science, a leading provider of scientifically-validated brain fitness products, and as a management consultant to major industries in the U.S. and Europe.
  • G. Richard ‘Dick’ Ambrosius, MA, Vice President of Outreach & Group Programs. Mr. Ambrosius earned his BA and MA in Political Science from the University of South Dakota and is the author of Choices & Changes, a positive aging guide to life-planning. His extensive experience includes service as the Executive Director of an Area Agency on Aging in Iowa, membership on the National Advisory Committee to the 1981 White House Conference on Aging, and the founding of one of the first full-service marketing organizations to specialize in the older adult market. He has consulted and presented widely, as well as having served as Vice President of Marketing for two multi-community senior living companies.
  • Ryan McKim, PsyD, Vice President of Research & Outcomes. Dr. McKim, a clinical neuropsychologist specializing in the assessment of memory and cognitive rehabilitation, completed fellowships in Neuropsychology and Health Psychology at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. He is involved in clinical research at the San Francisco VA Medical Center investigating neuroplasticity and developing novel cognitive rehabilitation strategies for returning veterans who have experienced traumatic brain injuries. He teaches Neuropsychological Assessment at the California Institute of Integral Studies. A popular speaker, Dr. McKim also teaches a Memory Fitness Program for patients and members of the public.
  • Kathryn Thomas, PhD, Director of Business Development. Dr. Thomas earned her MS and PhD in Gerontology at the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Gerontology, as well as her BS in Systems Engineering with Distinction at the University of Virginia. As a National Institute of Aging pre-doctoral fellow, her research covered employment, civic engagement, assistive technology, and long-term care policy issues. Her research has been published in peer reviewed journals and presented at national conferences. An active member of the Gerontological Society of America, American Society on Aging, and the Business Forum on Aging, Dr. Thomas is an Adjunct Professor at Georgia State University’s Gerontology Institute.
  • Key advisors include:

  • Jay Chyung, MD, PhD, Co-Founder and Board Member. In addition to his MD and PhD in Neurobiology from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Chyung earned his BS in Biochemistry magna cum laude at Harvard College. He led the development of NeoCORTA’s assessment, forecasting, and recommendation capabilities. Dr. Chyung currently serves as the Medical Director of Healthways, a leading provider of health management solutions.
  • Michael Knable, MD, Consulting Clinician. A board certified Neurologist and Psychiatrist, Dr. Knable earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at Ohio University. He is a faculty member at George Washington University Medical School and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. A respected researcher, Dr. Knable has authored numerous articles on neuropsychiatric diseases and co-authored a book about manic depression.
  • Sandra Timmerman, EdD, Advisory Board Member. Dr. Timmerman earned her advanced degrees at Columbia University, and has held key posts at the American Society on Aging, AARP, SeniorNet, National Alliance for Caregiving, and the Business Forum on Aging. A delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging, she now serves as Director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute and as Financial Gerontology columnist for the Journal of Financial Service Professionals.
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    Friday, July 16th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    To learn more about NeoCORTA’s proactive brain fitness service, click on its website Have questions? Call 650-743-7141 or email Let the cognitive health experts at NeoCORTA help you succeed in the vigorous emerging market of older adult brain fitness!