Melanie Hepker started to forget little things eight years ago, like her keys or even recent conversations. She's 92 years old.
"I am much older than I look," she said. "And the memory was being affected, yes."
She and other residents of Kingsley Manor Retirement Home in Los Angeles agreed to try a computer program designed to make the brain more fit.
"I did it because I was told it would help my memory and it did. Definitely has," Hepker said.
"It helps specifically with focus and being attentive," said Mary Titus, another resident.
"You have about a 25-minute workout. Just as someone goes to the gym and works out for 25, 50 minutes, you are getting a 25-minute workout for your brain," said Dr. Karen Miller of UCLA Medical Center.
Researchers at UCLA Medical Center studied 59 elderly residents at similar retirement communities. A California company developed the program and funded the study.
One test challenges seniors to identify the correct shapes, another pushes memory retention.
"It has taught me to observe more," Hepker said. "I was losing that."
Researchers found that people who regularly use the program improved their memory and language skills. About 40 percent of older adults have growing memory problems. Miller believes a brain workout could hold off the effects of Alzheimer's.
"What we hope is that by creating more and more programs we can figure out how to protect our brain and maybe push that timeframe off for all of us," Miller said.
"It's great fun," Hepker said.
Hepker says she now never forgets this workout because it works.
The computerized program used in the study is "Dakim Brain Fitness."
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