Taking control of memory changes during aging

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Simone Stiermann, MAP participant
In 2016, Simone Stiermann, 67, noticed some obvious instances of forgetfulness and general confusion. Stiermann was told that she was frequently forgetting conversations with her family and her absentmindedness was apparent enough to her son, Christophe, that he urged her to consult a doctor.

“All of this made me worry that I might be on my way to early dementia,” says Stiermann. “My doctor assured me that I was nowhere near developing the brain disorder, but he realized that I needed extra comfort and education to understand what was happening to my brain as I was aging.”

Based on the doctor’s recommendations, Stiermann signed up for Baycrest’s Memory and Aging Program, one of the few gold-standard, educational brain health workshops around the world. The clinically-validated intervention, developed by Baycrest’s clinicians and researchers, helps older adults take charge of memory changes they’re experiencing and teaches ways to optimize brain health.

“Thanks to the program, I feel more confident about being more in control of what’s happening in my brain,” says Stiermann. “I learned a lot from the program, not only about memory and the changes that occur with age, but also different lifestyle factors that can improve it and strategies to better remember things that I try to use every day.”

All the participants shared a “brotherhood and sisterhood bond” in talking about the memory changes they had all experienced, adds Stiermann.

Making the Memory and Program available to everyone

To make the program more accessible, Baycrest’s clinicians, researchers and eLearning specialists have teamed up to develop an online, interactive brain-training product. With support from the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, the program is undergoing validation across Canada and is expected to be available for distribution later this year.

To encourage interaction among web participants, the eLearning version includes polling and curated discussions, in which neuropsychologists can also participate.

Stiermann also took part in a trial of the online version and found it to be an engaging immersion into the program.

“The online version offered the benefit of being able to look at the presentation materials at length and to come back to it at my own leisure,” says Stiermann. “There were amazing interactive exercises that made the participation entertaining and more personal, it was almost like being in the class with other participants.”

Visit the Memory and Aging program website for updates on the release of the online version.
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