Top Brain Fitness Programs for Sustaining Mental Acuity

In aging seniors, healthy brain function is about more than just memory and coordination; everyday tasks, relationships, hobbies and quality of life are all affected.  It stands to reason that the more aware and capable you are of cognitive reasoning and performing independent living activities the higher your self confidence and emotional health.

The nation’s largest study on brain fitness was performed in 2002 by the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) and their results showed that a large percentage of participants over the age of 65 improved memory, reasoning and information-processing speed when they participated in training for five days per week.  In addition, the study showed a 47% lower risk of dementia in participants who worked crossword puzzles four days a week than those who only worked the puzzles once a week.  These results play into the notion of “Use it or Lose it” when it comes to cognitive aging.

Furthermore, an Australian study consisting of 30 peer-reviewed papers in controlled trials found that, as people experienced these lifestyle benefits they were also able to live longer and therefore reduce health care expenses.

Along with these studies, it is widely known that many seniors regularly engage in crossword puzzles, Sudoku and similar brain training games to slow dementia and aging.  Many software companies have tapped into this need by creating games and exercises that aid in sustaining mental acuity.  It has been reported that the brain fitness software market grew from $225 Million in 2007 to $265 Million in 2008.  Here are the top three systems that claim to reduce dementia rates in seniors.

Posit Science

Posit Science claims that their products will help the user “think faster, focus better, and remember more.”  Their software programs are designed for either a PC or a Mac. Each priced at $395.00

  1. Brain Fitness Program: Six programs that allow you to “Remember more & Feel Sharper” by practicing matching items, distinguishing objects, memory recall and story telling.
  2. InSight: Five programs designed for “Better Focus & Learn More” focusing on visual precision.
  3. DriveSharp: Two programs that deal with divided attention and increased processing times so that you will “Drive Carefully & React Faster”

Dakim BrainFitness

Dakim offers two brain training concepts for seniors.

  1. A complete self-contained console that only needs a high-speed internet connection but does not require a keyboard, mouse or software program installation.  It is marketed to both the individual senior and the senior living provider.  After the initial purchase of $2,299 for the touch-screen console, more than 150 games are available for a $19.95 per month subscription.
  2. 2. New brain fitness software to be released this April for $349.99, which includes a one-year subscription.


CogniFit is a web-based system that does not require you to install software or purchase a console.  Instead you access the programs through their website.  Both programs described below are priced based on the following subscription terms: $19.95 per month, $99.50 for 6 months, or $170 annually.

  1. CogniFit Personal Coach:  This program addresses overall cognitive skills and claims to improve memory and focus, and increase processing time.
  2. CogniFit Senior Driver: Similar to other driving programs, this system is designed to improve reaction time, handle multiple driving tasks and focus on potential road threat recognition.

About the Author: Ryan Malone is the founder and managing editor of Inside Elder Care and the author of the By Families, For Families Guide to Assisted Living.  He can be reach on Twitter at @RyanMalone.

Dr. Kevin O’Neil Helps Keep Your Brain in Shape

In this Leaders in Elder Care interview, I had the privilege to speak to Dr. Kevin O’Neil.  I first met Dr. O’Neil at Brookdale’s Brain Symposium a few months ago at UCLA, where I left quite impressed with the his approach to brain fitness and brain health.  Dr. O’Neil combines a deep understanding of both the science behind brain health and the practical advise that non-doctors require to do something about.  Congratulations, Dr. O’Neil, for being a Leader in Elder Care.

I hope you all enjoy the interview.

About Dr. Kevin O’Neil

Dr. Kevin O’Neil is the Medical Director for Brookdale Senior Living (BSL), the largest senior housing provided in the United States. Dr. O’Neil practiced and taught geriatric medicine for over 27 years (seven years in Massachusetts and 20 years in Sarasota, FL).  A graduate of Boston College and Georgetown University School of Medicine, he completed his internship in Internal Medicine at the Washington Hospital Center and his residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.  He was formerly an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Professor in the Department of Aging at the University of South Florida.

He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and holds a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and is a member of the American Geriatrics Society and the American Medical Directors Association.

Dr. O’Neil is co-editor and a contributing writer to Optimal Aging Manual, which Art Linkletter has called “the great master book for the boomers.”

Steven Aldrich Advances Brain Fitness at Posit Science

In this Leaders in Elder Care Interview, I spoke with Steven Aldrich of Posit Science.  Posit Science is one of the leaders in what is a growing market for brain fitness and memory care software.  There are many ways to provide memory training, as some of you may know, but I really enjoyed two things from my interviews and several discussions with Steven.  First, Posit Science has gone the extra distance to conduct clinical studies on the use of their software.  This is where the rubber really meets the road in terms of validating marketing claims with real world evidence.

Second, I really appreciated the extension of brain fitness into a lifestyle rather than just a treatment for specific conditions. Research shows that brain fitness is something that should be started sooner rather than later, so was a relief to see the “lifestyle” element incorporated in the way Steven and Posit Science approach the market.

Enjoy the interview!

About Steven Aldrich

Steven Aldrich is president and CEO of Posit Science, joining the company from Intuit where he created significant growth over 13 years in many roles. Most recently he was vice president of Strategy and Innovation of the small business division where he accelerated growth by solving important customer problems through partnerships and acquisitions. He guided the QuickBooks Industry Solutions and QuickBooks Point of Sale teams to several successive years of significant employee engagement increases, customer experience improvements and revenue growth. Steven was president of Quicken Insurance, a business he co-founded and sold to Intuit. He has worked in the investment banking division of Alex. Brown & Sons and for McKinsey & Company.

Steven completed his MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and he holds an AB in Physics from the University of North Carolina. Steven is an avid supporter of the arts, president of the Board of the Bay Area Glass Institute ( and enjoys spending time with his wife Allison and their son, Jackson.

How Steven Describes Posit Science

Founded in 2003 in San Francisco, Posit Science ( helps adults stay vibrant throughout their lives with brain fitness software that engages the brain’s natural plasticity (the brain’s ability to rewire.) Our staff neuroscientists collaborate with a team of more than 50 scientists from leading institutions around the globe to develop and test programs that improve cognitive performance—and enhance quality of life. The company’s products and scientists are currently featured in two PBS documentaries, including “The Brain Fitness Program.”

Posit Science grew out of the pioneering work of renowned neuroscientist Dr. Michael Merzenich. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine, and Professor Emeritus at the University of California at San Francisco, Dr. Merzenich has a track record of turning neuroscience into practical tools that benefit consumers. More than 30 published studies show that our 90 patented technologies significantly increase processing speed, improve memory and enhance the quality of everyday life.

All three of Posit Science’s interactive brain fitness software programs are designed to help users think faster, focus better and remember more.  The difference is in how the products train your brain.

The Brain Fitness Program™ is a software program for the auditory system of the brain. Auditory processing is fundamental to brain fitness because much of the important information taken in each day—and that people want to respond to, remember and use later—comes in through what is heard. These skills can help a person remember details of a conversation, find the words on the “tip of their tongue” and keep up with rapid speech.

InSight™ is a software program that sharpens the brain’s visual system, resulting in a person seeing more of what’s around them, reacting to it quicker and remembering it better. These skills are essential to everyday activities, like matching names with faces, keeping track of grandchildren on a busy playground and remembering where the keys are.

DriveSharp™ is a driving-focused product, containing two of the five exercises in Insight.  DriveSharp focuses on the visual areas in the brain that are essential to safe driving and is clinically proven to train the brain to think and react faster on the road.  Improvements in visual processing skills decrease the risk of an accident by 50 percent. DriveSharp is recommended by the AAA Foundation.

To conduct clinical studies, we work with leading researchers at prestigious institutions, including, Cambridge, Harvard, Mayo Clinic, MIT, Stanford, UCSF and USC. We have also established business partnerships with global organizations, including AAA Clubs, AAA Foundation, Alzheimer’s Australia, Allstate, Capital Health, Penn Treaty and QVC.

Contact Information for Posit Science

Posit Science Corporation
225 Bush St., 7FL
San Francisco, CA 94104

Dakim Battles Dementia and Alzheimer’s

This morning I went to the gym, just like I’ve done 3-4 times a week for years.  I really try to push myself at the end of each workout.  My motivation comes from my desire to be healthy, active and have the longevity to spend many, many years with my wife and daughter.

But did you know your brain is a muscle?  What if I told you your brain could even have its own personal trainer?

It’s true, and it’s called Dakim BrainFitness.

A Brief History of Dakim

In the late 1990s, Dakim CEO and founder Dan Michel became very frustrated with the cognitive stimulation tools available to his father who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.  Taking matters into his own hands, he built a collection of rudimentary games to exercise his father’s brain. Over time, Dan’s creations become more complex and challenging.

When it became clear Dan’s analog tools had reached their potential, he realized it was time to go digital.  Dakim was born and Dan was driven with the thoughts of his father’s progress to create a memory training system that could be used over the long-term to create the type of improvement many scientific studies had promised.

Dakim’s Promise

A number of studies exist (read them at Dakim’s website) that correlate consistent mental stimulation with a decrease in Alzheimer’s and dementia.   One such study in the New England Journal of Medicine(1) found that seniors who consistently particpated in highly mentally stimulating leisure activities had a 63% reduced risk of dementia.

The Dakim BrainFitness system provides a mechanism through which seniors can regular exercise their brains in a way that is fun, non-repetitive and interactive such that they look forward to playing every day.

How it Works

Dakim BrainFitness is a purpose-built computer with a touch screen.  Headphones are optional depending on your location.  Dakim BrainFitness combines medically-proven brain exercises with a user interface that is so incredibly simple.  Combining audio, visual and eye-hand coordination, the games are played at a pace that is both fun and challenging.

Dakim BrainFitness trains across six cognitive domains and game takes about 20 minutes to complete.  As players improve on one domain or the other, the system increases the difficulty, enabling users to both play at their own pace yet still be challenges.  Dakim recommends the games be played 20 minutes per day, 3-5 times per week.

When you get it right, you get nothing but encouragement.  And when you get it wrong, you get nothing but encouragement.  Incorrect answers were communicated in a way that inspired me to continue, rather than frustrated me to quit.  And the content of the game was set in the era most relevant to the players – two examples of the little details that make the difference between a good idea and a effective, well-thought product.

Software updates and new game content is update via the Internet automatically — typically at night when nobody is playing.  Dakim Brain Fitness is maintenance free and require no computer skills to operate, clearing a huge usability hurdle for many seniors.

Pricing and How to Buy

Dakim BrainFitness comes in two models – a model designed for elder care communities and a home model.  Dakim shared with me only the pricing for the home model which was $2,499.  Dakim also charges a monthly $50 fee for software maintenace and the downloading of new games and lessons.   Dakim offers a 30-day moneyback guarantee – a testament to their confidence in their product.

My Throughts on Dakim BrainFitness

During Brookdale’s Brain Symposium, I spent nearly a day next to Dan Michel and his head of sales, Rick Sill.  On a perosnal and professional level, these are good guys who have the right intentions for elder care — a personal experience and the drive to help others benefit from a good idea.  From a product perspective, I was very impressed with the Dakim BrainFitness system.   It was easy to use, fun to play and based on sound science.  I thought the pricing for the device was quite reasonable – it was about the same as the cost of the Mac I am writing on now and my monthly gym membership.

Surely that is a small price to pay for a 63% reduced risk of dementia?

I recommend you take a look at Dakim BrainFitness.  Spend some time on their live product demonstration.  Their website is packed full of good materials and plenty of videos for those of you who hate reading page after page of web copy.


  1. Verghese J, Lipton RB, Katz MJ, Hall CB, Derby CA, Kuslansky G, Ambrose A, Siliwinski M, Buschke H.  The New England Journal of Medicine, 348: 2508-2516.