"Train Your Brain" was written to provide older adults, and the people who work with them, with practical and scientifically based suggestions and interventions on how to maintain and even improve memory ability. Researchers have found that certain lifestyle factors predict the likelihood of developing memory problems. Most chapters begin with research summaries, followed by practical suggestions for taking advantage of the identified factors that affect memory. The book also contains information and suggestions for people interested in starting a cognitive enhancement program in an assisted living facility, senior center, or medical setting. Two chapters, 'How Memory Works' and 'How the Brain Works', provide readers with a foundation of knowledge so they can get the most out of subsequent chapters. The author presents the 'Use It or Lose It' theory of memory and aging and the overwhelming evidence that cognitive stimulation is associated with better memory ability; he also provides information on how nutrition, physical exercise, mood, stress, and sleep all affect memory. The book contains cognitive enhancement activities, with instructions, that can be used to create a memory enhancement program for oneself or others. However, even all of this information won't help the older adult who is unmotivated to make the necessary behavioral changes, so the author includes information on how to motivate people to do the things that can improve their quality of life and their ability to make new memories.
Chapter 1. Introduction: Can Memory Ability be Improved?
The idea that memory ability can be improved is presented and supported. Research is showing that our memory and cognitive abilities are affected by controllable lifestyle factors.
Chapter 2. How Memory Works
The reader will learn the basic facts and theories about memory. These ideas reappear throughout the book and will help the reader understand subsequent chapters at a deeper level.
Chapter 3. How the Brain Works
This chapter provides a basic description of how the brain works, in particular how it makes, stores, and retrieves memories. This information will allow the reader to understand what happens to the brain (and memory) as we age, which will enable them to understand why we need to do certain types of memory enhancement activities.
Chapter 4. Use It or Lose It
The Use It or Lose It theory of memory and aging will show the reader how important it is to stay mentally active. In addition to looking at the plethora of research that supports the idea that staying mentally active will decrease one’s chance of having memory problems, this chapter also contains a long list of activities that people can do to stay mentally active and cognitively sharp.
Chapter 5. Nutrition
The nutrition chapter details how what we eat can either increase or decrease the likelihood of developing memory problems. Lists of foods that are good for maintaining a healthy brain are presented.
Chapter 6. Physical Exercise
Maximizing memory ability and decreasing the chance of developing dementia requires a holistic approach and physical exercise is a key component to maintaining good cognitive abilities. In this chapter, the reader will learn how exercise affects our memory and attention abilities and which types of exercises are best for preventing dementia.
Chapter 7. Mood and Social Support
This chapter was written to provide people with information about depression and aging, including the symptoms, treatments, and its affect on memory ability. In addition, the topic of social support and aging is covered and practical interventions are suggested.
Chapter 8. Stress and Memory
Information about the effects of stress on memory and why stress usually impairs memory ability are presented. The reader is also provided with practical suggestions to reduce stress and improve memory ability.
Chapter 9. Sleep and Memory
Many types of sleep disorders may impact memory ability. This chapter focuses on those disorders, their impact on memory, and possible treatments, which may improve sleep and memory ability.
Chapter 10. Practical Tips
Twelve useful and practical tips to improve memory are presented. These simple, research based suggestions can dramatically improve people’s ability to make, retain, and recall memories.
Chapter 11. What is Dementia?
This chapter contains information about the various types of dementia and their precursor conditions and risk factors. The reader will also learn about the available pharmacological treatments for dementia.
Chapter 12. Creating Your Own Cognitive Enhancement Classes
This unique chapter contains a large number of cognitively stimulating activities that can be used to create your own cognitive enhancement program. Ideas about how to customize the activities for people of varying cognitive abilities are also included.
Chapter 13. Starting and Sustaining Your Cognitive Enhancement Program
This chapter includes information about where classes can be held, how to charge participants for your time, and materials. We will also explore which types of participants benefit the most from memory classes and which type of participants can negatively impact the ability of other participants to benefit from the classes.
Chapter 14. Participant Management: How to Help More People Benefit from Cognitive Stimulation
This chapter contains ideas and strategies to maximally stimulate higher functioning older adults as well those who have more severe memory impairment or even early stage dementia. Additionally, information about motivating people to take the necessary steps to improve their memory ability and quality of life is presented.