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Sharpen your mind with brain exercises

New program being rolled out by Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska
Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 8:35 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A new program built on the same principles as physical fitness will soon be available to Alaskans, specifically those who want to keep their mind sharp and engaged.

The brain exercises are part of a program developed by the New England Cognitive Center called Mind Aerobics. Right now, Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska is training its staff on how to use the program, which will eventually be available to everyone in the state.

“There are six domains of cognitive function addressed in this, so like reaction time, attention and concentration, memory, use of language, problem solving and each of these have real-world counterparts and consequences,” said Ken Helander, project director of Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska.

The non-profit knows all too well how devastating diseases like Alzheimer’s can rob people of their memories and independence.

“That’s one of the things that happens when people get a diagnosis,” Helander said. “Everyone stops talking to you and they talk over you or they talk around you, but this is for those people to help them remain engaged with one another.”

The program is geared toward people at different levels. It’s also a great way to keep the mind sharp, but as people get farther into the program, the exercises get a little more challenging.

“It’s meant to push you in ways that may, you know, seem frustrating,” Helander said. “But you know, that’s where you’re learning, the hardest part is where you’re getting the most exercise.”

Whether a person is referred by a doctor, in an early stage diagnosis or just wants to keep their mind sharp, the hope is that the brain exercises will yield positive cognitive results.

There are two different levels of courses and a screening that determines which one people enroll in. ARA is hoping to offer it in mid-July. Right now, all of the sessions are done virtually. The course runs for 24 sessions, one hour each. The cost is $10 a session or $240 for the whole course. For those that can’t afford the full fee, there’s scholarship options available.

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