There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but there is a form of treatment using computer programs that is gaining popularity. Health reporter Erin Billups filed the following report.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but brain workout programs on computers are gaining in popularity as a way to combat the disease.
"We know right now that there is nothing to cure Alzheimer’s disease, nothing to prevent it, nothing to reverse it,” said Carol Steinberg, president of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
But a growing body of research has shown that there are ways to reduce risk factors and slow the progression of Alzheimer's symptoms.
"If you eat well, if you socialize, if you do mental activities and physical exercise, these are all things that may help,” said Steinberg.
The Memory Training Centers of America, founded by cognitive psychologist Peter Magaro in 2003, specialize in giving the brain a workout through computer programs aimed at delaying the onset of dementia.
"It gives you those extra years that you can be independent, take care of yourself,” said Peter Magaro, president and CEO of MCTA.
Anne Hollister, 81, was a reporter for Time and Life magazines and is fighting to hold on to her memories.
"My favorite memory was traveling all over the world,” said Hollister. “He would take the pictures and I then would interview.”
MTCA evaluated Hollister's memory, which led to weekly sessions with a trained clinician, where they work on areas specific to her needs.
"The brain is a system of connections, it's those connections that crumble and get tangled, so you say well, we have to get some other connections. So you practice connections to memories so they are more fluid for you,” Magaro said.
MTCA has grown from an annual revenue of $115,000 to nearly $4 million in the past decade.
They now work at 120 sites, located in assisted living facilities and seniors centers, enabling them to accept Medicare.
Magaro says the trend is just now starting to take off.
"People are going to accept that they have to work to keep themselves healthy,” he said.
Online brain training programs are also growing in popularity.
For anyone having issues with memory, experts say to take those concerns to a health care professional.
"You need that explanation of what’s going on, and you need that encouragement to follow up,” said Steinberg.