St. Camillus: Memory Academy charges your brain

Brain health is vital to living a quality life, no matter the age. St. Camillus Health and Rehabilitation Center offers two adult programs that help improve memory skills and stave off dementia. This week, the Eagle Bulletin focuses on the Memory Academy, designed for cognitively healthy adults. Next week's issue will address the Serper program, which is geared toward people with mild cognitive impairment, regardless of the cause.

Are you more forgetful than you used to be?

This spring, St. Camillus Health and Rehabilitation Center offered for the first time ever the Memory Academy, a 12-week program designed for healthy adults who want to improve their memory skills.

Patti Arnold, a physical therapist assistant who works at the center, gave it a try.

"I noticed my short-term memory was slipping a little," the 56-year-old said. "I knew [the program] would give me what I needed."

Arnold's memory skills did strengthen through exercises the program assigns participants. Training includes both cognitive and physical workouts.

"Aerobic and strengthening exercises have been shown to help people's cognitive function," said Ellen Somers, St. Camillus Alzheimer's Services coordinator, who co-leads the program with Alzheimer's specialist, Cheryl Hylton. "More physically fit, healthy people are less prone to have strokes and other conditions that put [them] at higher risk for developing dementia."

Each week, the group of approximately 25 people learned how adjustments to diet, socialization, spirituality and mental stimulation reduce the risk factors contributing to dementia. Activities included number, word and language games.

"A lot of us are guilty of doing just the things we like and are good at, and we're not really challenging ourselves to try some different types of exercise, that [stimulate] different parts of the brain," Somers said.

Strategies taught in the program can be practiced at home, she added.

A second session is set to begin at St. Camillus in September. The cost is $80.

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