Hi everyone, I am gerontologist and aging expert Dr. Jan Vinita White. I created this blog as an informational forum for topics related to aging. This is a read-only forum created for educational and enrichment purposes... no advertising. All of the postings here have been vetted via scholarly research. There are 114 articles here and I am adding to it all the time. Enjoy! Dr. White
Puzzles and games do not make people smarter,
maintain cognitive functioning, or prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.It is a myth perpetuated by companies trying to
sell false hope and make money prying on vulnerable people.Research trumps scare tactics.See the facts below.AgeDoc
brain games make you smarter? Think again, researchers say
New study finds no evidence games increase overall cognitive
Summary:Brain games marketed by the billion-dollar
brain-training industry don't improve cognition or help prevent age-related
brain decline, new research finds.
Be skeptical of ads declaring you can rev up your brain's performance by
challenging it with products from the growing brain-training industry.
Science does not support many of the claims.
That's according to a new study published in the science journalFrontiers
in Aging Neurosciencefrom
a team of Florida State University researchers.
Neil Charness, professor of psychology and a leading authority
on aging and cognition, teamed up with Wally Boot, associate professor of
psychology, and graduate student Dustin Souders to test the theory that brain
games help preserve cognitive function.
"Our findings and previous studies confirm there's very
little evidence these types of games can improve your life in a meaningful
way," said Boot, an expert on age-related cognitive decline.
Charness, who's also the director of FSU's Institute for
Successful Longevity, said an increasing number of people believe brain
training helps protect them against memory loss or cognitive disorders.
"Brain challenges like crossword games are a popular
approach, especially among baby boomers, as a way to try to protect
cognition," Charness said.
That popularity has turned the brain-training industry into a
billion-dollar business. Brain games are available online and through mobile
apps that typically sell for about $15 a month or $300 for lifetime
memberships. But advertising for this rapidly growing business sector has
sometimes used inflated claims. The Federal Trade Commission fined one
brain-training company $50 million for false advertising, which was later
lowered to $2 million.
"More companies are beginning to be fined for these types
of inflated claims and that's a good thing," Boot said. "These
exaggerated claims are not consistent with the conclusions of our latest
The FSU team's study focused on whether brain games could boost
the "working memory" needed for a variety of tasks. In their study,
they set up one group of people to play a specially designed brain-training
video game called "Mind Frontiers," while another group of players
performed crossword games or number puzzles.
All players were given lots of information they needed to juggle
to solve problems. Researchers tested whether the games enhanced players'
working memory and consequently improved other mental abilities, such as
reasoning, memory and processing speed.
That's the theory behind many brain games: If you improve
overall working memory, which is fundamental to so much of what we do every
day, then you can enhance performance in many areas of your life.
The team examined whether improving working memory would
translate to better performance on other tasks or as the researchers called it:
In short, no.
"It's possible to train people to become very good at tasks
that you would normally consider general working memory tasks: memorizing 70,
80, even 100 digits," Charness said. "But these skills tend to be
very specific and not show a lot of transfer. The thing that seniors in
particular should be concerned about is, if I can get very good at crossword
puzzles, is that going to help me remember where my keys are? And the answer is
Charness has spent much of his career the past 45 years trying
to wrap his brain around the way the mind functions and how it ages. With the
senior population continuing to grow -- 45 million Americans are 65 or older --
Charness understands their concerns about preserving brain function and
"People have real concerns about loss of cognition and loss
of memory as they age, so they do all kinds of things to try to stave off
cognitive decline," Charness said.
Charness noted that other research finds aerobic exercise,
rather than mental exercise, is great for your brain. Physical exercise can
actually cause beneficial structural changes in the brain and boost its
function. He predicts "exer-gaming," which combines exercise with
brain games, will increase in popularity in the 21st century.
"I wouldn't come away from our article totally
discouraged," Charness said. "It's another piece of the puzzle that
we're all trying to assemble. It's discouraging in the sense that we can't find
far transfer and that seems to be a fairly consistent finding in research. But
if your real goal is to improve cognitive function and brain games are not
helping, then maybe you are better off getting aerobic exercise rather than
sitting in front of the computer playing these games."
Florida State University. (2017, April 17).
Think brain games make you smarter? Think again, researchers say: New study
finds no evidence games increase overall cognitive abilities.ScienceDaily. Retrieved June
17, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170417095528.htm
Hi readers, today I had the pleasure of meeting caregiving
expert Dr. Warren Hebert.Hebert, who is
an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at Loyola University New
Orleans, is a compassionate and knowledgeable authority on caregiving.From our conversation, I was impressed with
his passion and understanding of the challenges faced by caregivers.We also discussed caregiving attitudes and
expectations cross-culturally and how caregiving is approached in various
global cultures and within ethnic groups in America.We also talked about caregiver burnout and
exhaustion.Of course, we also examined
the benefits, advantages, and joys of caring for loved ones.
With a focus on general audiences, Dr. Hebert's radio program
is a must for caregivers, scholars, clergy, counselors, and anyone
interested in how families care for loved ones when they need help.Below is the link to his radio show at Radio
Maria.It is live every Wednesday from
4-5 pm Central Time.Not available at that
time?No problem.By clicking this link, achieves of past shows
are also available. I believe anyone interested in caregiving will benefit from
Dr. Hebert’s pearls of wisdom. I hope
you find this resource valuable!AgeDoc
Hi readers, a
serious issue is overmedication of older adults and/or taking medications that
cannot be adequately metabolized by the older body. Never assume that medical professionals know
appropriate dosage or if the prescribed medication is appropriate for you. Be proactive and ASK, “Is this aligned with
the Beers list?” Some medications on
this list are over-the-counter medications, so pay attention to what you take
and how much. Below is a blurb about the
Beers list and I have also attached the link for the updated list here. http://www.americangeriatrics.org/files/documents/beers/BeersCriteriaPublicTranslation.pdf
What is the Beers List and Why Do I Need it?
“For more than 20 years, the Beers Criteria for Potentially
Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults has been the leading source of
information about the safety of prescribing drugs for older people. To help
prevent medication side effects and other drug-related problems in older
adults, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) has updated and expanded this
important resource. The expanded AGS Updated Beers Criteria for Potentially
Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults identifies medications with risks
that may be greater than their benefits for people 65 and older. “
Why Experts Developed the Beers Criteria
“As you get older, your body changes. These changes can increase
the chances that you’ll have side effects when you take medications. Older
people usually have more health problems and take more medications than younger
people. Because of this, they are also more likely to experience dangerous
drug-drug interactions. Every year, one in three adults 65 or older has one or
more adverse (harmful) reactions to a medication or medications. This is why
it’s important for researchers to identify and help reduce use of drugs that
are associated with more risks than benefits in older people. The Beers
Criteria was last updated in 2003. The criteria need to be updated regularly
because new drugs continue to be marketed and new studies continue to provide
information on the safety of existing medications. In 2011, the criteria was
updated by the American Geriatrics Society using a panel of healthcare and
pharmacy experts. The AGS will continue to update the criteria on a regular
What is “successful aging?” It depends.Scientists and scholars have been actively and robustly addressing this
topic for over fifty years.Recently,
Dr. Leonard Poon’s distinguished multi-disciplinary team carefully reviewed the
literature and conceded that we cannot agree on what it means to age “successfully,”
as that is a relative term with cultural, religious, psychological, and
biological factors to consider.
While most of the earlier
studies focused on identifying successful aging as maintaining optimum health
and avoiding disease, more contemporary models have emerged.For example, the MacArthur study defined
optimum or positive aging as “freedom from disease and disability, high
cognitive and physical functioning, and active engagement with life” (Martin et
al., 2015, p. 18).Does the absence of these three criteria
equate to unsuccessful or negative/undesirable aging? Are older adults able to age successfully in
spite of health declines?The Poon study
(Martin et al., 2015) is worth reviewing, as it is a comprehensive literature
review that answers many questions but leaves us wanting more.
Principle investigator of the Harvard Grant Study on Aging, George
Valiant, identified a formula for successful aging from his longitudinal
research that began in 1937 and is still in progress.Maintaining strong social networks was an
important finding in the Grant study, as lonely and toxic individuals have
destructive relationships that negatively impact aging. Valiant identified the two
groups of agers as, the Happy Healthy
and the Sad Sick.While absence of chronic diseases is
important for optimum longevity, Valiant found that chronic conditions can be
mitigated by adapting and maximizing strengths (Valiant, 2015).
His findings included five
elements for successful aging include; maintaining a healthy weight over the
lifespan, low alcohol intake, regular mental and physical exercise, engaging in
hobbies, and maintaining close relationships.Having good people around you is key (Valiant, 2015).
The two sources below are
outstanding resources for learning more about successful aging.
Martin, P., Kelly, N., Kahana,
B., Kahana, E., Willcox, B.J., Willcox, D.C., & Poon, L.W. (2015).Defining successful aging: a tangible or elusive
concept?The Gerontologist, 55(1),
G.E. (2015). Triumphs of experience: the
men of the Harvard Grant Study.
PhD, Human Services/Gerontology---
MS, Liberal Arts/Gerontology---
BS, Liberal Arts/Human Services-- WHAT I DO-- College Professor --
Owner, White Professional Consulting, LLC--Curriculum Developer and Corporate Advisor--- --Public Speaking---Educational Seminars--- Corporate Training-- Educational Seminars for Professionals... and more! Contact phone number 256.653.9672 or www.janvwhiteagedoc.com