Live Wisely - August 19, 2021
By Jessica Fredericksen
When I joined Goodwin House as the brain health program manager in February 2021, Goodwin House President & CEO Rob Liebreich gave me a goal: touch the lives of 100,000 older adults through StrongerMemory by 2023.
StrongerMemory is Rob’s brainchild, if you’ll pardon the pun. He created this brain health curriculum after his mother was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Unable to find any standard treatments for her condition, Rob developed his own program. StrongerMemory is designed to stimulate the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which governs our ability to retrieve memories. Participants spend just 20 to 30 minutes a day engaged in simple reading, writing and math activities. The goal of StrongerMemory is to delay or slow the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or early-stage dementia.
Rob launched StrongerMemory in late 2019 with a small pilot group of residents from Goodwin House Alexandria and Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads. Beginning in 2020, we’ve offered the StrongerMemory program to everyone as a free, downloadable workbook on our website. In early 2021, we expanded StrongerMemory by partnering with Village to Village Network, Inc. to empower Villages across the country to offer StrongerMemory to older adults.
Now, we’re taking the program even further.
Through a new partnership with the Brain Exercise Initiative (BEI), we will now be able to offer another key component of the program: the weekly check in.
The Brain Exercise Initiative is a non-profit organization founded by UCLA medical student Esin Gumustekin. BEI is an entirely student-run organization that seeks to uplift older adults and prevent Alzheimer’s disease through the simple exercises of reading aloud, writing and math. It is “a nationwide intergenerational program in which university students connect with seniors to do brain exercises together.” Through its chapters at 79 different universities throughout the United States and abroad, BEI has empowered over 1,000 volunteers to connect with older adults through brain health exercises.
StrongerMemory is excited to be partnering with such a motivated and compassionate group of students. Student volunteers from BEI will host 30-minute, online check-ins for participants every weekday (Monday through Friday) from 10:00 a.m. EST (7:00 a.m. PST) to 10:30 a.m. EST. Individuals can join the check-in via Google Meet by clicking here. They can also see it streamed through the StrongerMemory Facebook Group. The goal of these live, virtual check-ins and the Facebook Group is to provide a place where participants can connect with others who are also facing memory challenges or interested in improving their brain health.
StrongerMemory has taught us that having a social connection is an essential part of brain health. Joining the StrongerMemory community lets people pursue healthy brain habits with others who share their concerns about memory and aging. The connections they and friendships they build will have a lasting, positive impact on their lives.
The daily check-ins offered through StrongerMemory and BEI are free and open to everyone. Please join us to learn more about StrongerMemory, share your experience and discuss brain health tips and challenges. Anyone can benefit from joining the StrongerMemory movement!
Jessica Fredericksen, CDP, MSW, RCAL, joined Goodwin House in early 2021 as Brain Health Program Manager. She is focused on advancing brain health and dementia awareness through education, the StrongerMemory program and serving on the Dementia Advance Team. She collaborates with staff across all Goodwin House Incorporated service lines to provide creative brain health programming. Jessica is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) with a Masters in Gerontological Social Work (MSW) from Washington University in St. Louis. Before joining Goodwin House, she worked for an Assisted Living & Memory Care company in the Midwest where she gained experience as an Executive Director and Corporate Director of Community Excellence. She spent most of her time traveling to train and support communities and care partners to provide excellent, person-directed care. When she’s not focused on brain health, Jessica enjoys volunteering with her church’s Youth Group and taking hikes with her cockapoo, Chloe Rose.