New study gives us the strongest evidence yet for the power of brain training to reduce the risk of dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Much has been said about the potential of brain training, such as computer based games to exercise the mind, to reduce the risk of dementia related illness in seniors. Brain training can be related to things such as education, social engagement and new learning, and can be a great help to older people.

computer brain training for seniors

There has been a lot of talk lately about the role that brain training can play in lowering the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have looked at factors like education, social engagement, and the amount of new learning that older people do as possible things that may help.

Now with research led by Jerri Edwards, from the University of South Florida, we see new evidence that a “speed-processing-based” training program can indeed lower rates of cognitive decline and dementia.

New study on preventing Alzheimer’s disease is most rigorous to date

This latest study involved nearly 3,000 healthy older people who were randomly assigned to take a five week classroom-based training that involved improving their processing speed, improving their memory skills, or improving their reasoning skills. The study participants were followed over 10 years. The purpose of the computer-based “speed-processing” training was to help people take in and process information on the screen faster. The researchers manipulated how much time the people had to process the material.

Speed-processing may be the key

At the end of the study, only those assigned to the speed-processing training showed a 33% reduction in the amount of dementia or cognitive impairment after 10 years compared to those who received the memory or reasoning training.

“I think everyone over 50 should start doing it,” says Edwards. “There’s a preponderance of evidence that this type of training has multiple benefits and the risk is minimal, and it’s not even expensive.”

The type of training used is available online in a commercial program by Brain HQ called the Double Decision Exercise (which licensed the training from the researchers who created it).

Edwards hopes to continue to the benefits of brain training in future trials, to learn more about how often people should be taking advantage of the training and how durable and lasting the effects can be. Many people agree that we should all work to keep our brains sharp and fit through use. Like any muscle, our brains can only benefit from regular training and exercise.

Results of this Brain Training study were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association annual meeting.

I was on the forums these past few days and one of the threads was talking about how many days are covered by Medicare in a Nursing Home or Rehab after a hospital stay. The answers were all over the map and quite confusing I must confess, so I thought I would do a post about it to clear things up. I have always told my readers I am no expert, but when it comes to this subject I know it all to well. You see my mom has been in and out of rehab 3 times in the past 2 years so we know the rules by heart.

According to Medicare rules a person must have a qualifying hospital stay of at least 3 days, ( 24 hours) and be in need of further skilled nursing or rehab care in order for them to pay for the stay. The doctor and the physical therapy department at the hospital must agree that the patient would benefit from continued care or therapy at a nursing home or rehab facility. 

It is important to note at this point that the patient needs to be an inpatient at the hospital for 3 days, and time spent in observation or the ER does not count. They have to be admitted to the hospital. This is very important!

Insurance companies and Medicare are putting increased pressure on doctors so that they do not admit patients. They have narrowed the guidelines for admittance and now many patients are ending up in observation for 1, 2 or 3 nights and then they do not qualify to go to rehab under Medicare. 

If a person has a qualifying stay of 3 days then Medicare will pay for nursing home or rehab as follows:

1. Day 1-20 Covered 100%
2. Day 21-100 partial coverage with a 161.00 a day co-pay
3. Day 101 and beyond no coverage

Many Medicare supplement policies like the one my mother has will cover the copay on days 21-100 so there is no out of pocket for the patient. However this is something you should look into ahead of time so you know your coverage should you or a loved one be in this situation. 

During the time in rehab the patient must continue to show that the services provided are helping them to improve. So if at anytime during their stay the team feels they have done all they can for the patient the team is obligated to discharge them, even if they have days left.

Now there is something to be said about having days left over. If the patient leaves rehab or nursing care and they need to be readmitted to the facility within 30 days and have days remaining they will have coverage through Medicare. If they use up all their days then they would have to wait 60 days and have another qualifying hospital stay of 3 days before Medicare would pay for skilled nursing care or rehab again. This would start their 100 day benefit period over again. 

I am providing a link here that goes to the Medicare.gov site for skilled nursing care. It has more information for you. 

I do hope this information helps you understand the process a bit better. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me or leave a comment at the bottom. We always love to hear from you. Remember you are not on this journey alone.

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