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.

Sources:

  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.

Inside Elder Care to Appear at Brookdale’s Brain Symposium

Brookdale Senior Living has invited me to be one of only a handful of resources at their groundbreaking “Cross-Train Your Brain” Conference.

The conference will take plan on May 12, 2009 at UCLA and will focus on elder memory issues and how to keep the mind strong and sharp.  They event will open with a keynote address by Dr. Gary Small, MD, memory expert and author of several books including his latest, “iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind.”

Brookdale has put together what I expect to be a VERY informative set of breakout sessions, including:

  • Nutrition and Brain Fitness
  • Tai Chi
  • Making Music for Brain Health
  • Yoga for the Brain
  • Stress Management and Brain Health
  • Brain Fitness
  • Jogging for the Brain

The event will close with an address from Dr. Kevin O’Neil, MD entitled “Cross-Train Your Brain.”

I am obviously pleased to be one of the handful of elder care resources on display at the event.  Brookdale will be raffling off a number of copies of the “By Families, For Families Guide to Assisted Living.”

I’ll be donated a portion of all book purchases to the Alzheimer’s Association.