At the Aspen Senior Center, we’ve adopted and implemented the Cognasium (gymnasium for the mind) Approach to helping our clients–many of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
We learned about the Cognasium Approach comes from Nick Zullo, program director at the Alzheimer’s Association Utah Chapter. It includes four aspects of caring for our minds.
First is the nutritional aspect of eating healthy foods and especially healthy fats since our brain is mostly made up of fats and water. Getting a lot of anti-oxidants and fresh fruits and vegetables is important to our brain power. We provide tasty catered meals from local restaurants that use only the freshest ingredients.
Second is the mental stimulus aspect of caring for our minds. Since our brain is like a muscle it needs to be worked out often. If you don’t use it you lose it. We enjoy puzzles and word games and other mind-bending activities with our clients.
Third is the physical aspect. The better we take care of our bodies by exercising and the better we are taking care of our brains. The heart and brain are closely related and the more healthy our heart is the more healthy our brain will be since it’s so dependent on good blood flow. We have a great time playing active games that encourage good blood flow to the brain.
Finally, we incorporate the social aspect of the cognasium approach. Socializing with others on a consistent basis is good for brain health. Talking and laughing together is great for our mental health. Staying at home alone day after day is not good for our mental health. We have a lot of fun together socializing and playing at the Aspen Senior Center.
We feel this is a well thought-out approach to helping seniors in our community, especially those who need a safe and friendly place to spend the day. We also know that it blesses the lives of the family members (caregivers) who also need a break for their own mental well-being.