Melanie Hepker started to forget little things eight years ago like her keys or even recent conversations.
She's 92 years old. "I am much older than I look. And the memory was being affected yes."
She and other residents of Kingsley Manor Retirement Home in Los Angeles agreed to try a computer program designed to make the brain more fit. "I did it because I was told it would help my memory and it did. Definitely has."
Mary Titus, "It helps specifically with focus and being attentive."
"You have about a 25 minute workout. Just as someone goes to the gym and works out for 25, 50 minutes, you are getting a 25 minute workout for your brain," says Dr. Karen Miller.
Researchers at UCLA Medical Center studied 59 elderly residents at similar retirement communities.
A California company developed the program and funded the study.
"Only one of the pieces below fits correctly into this puzzle. Which one is it?"
One test challenges seniors to identify the correct shapes.
Another pushes memory retention.
"The objects you just saw have shifted positions and one has been replaced. Correct again."
"Observing. It has taught me to observe more. I was losing that," says Hepker.
Researchers found that people who regularly use the program improved their memory and language skills.
About 40% of older adults have growing memory problems.
Miller believes a brain work out could hold off the effects of Alzheimer's. "What we hope is that by creating more and more programs we can figure out how to protect our brain and maybe push that timeframe off for all of us."
Hepker says she now never forgets this workout because it works.
The computerized program used in the study is "Dakim Brain Fitness."