Valley of the Sun, AZ

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

A Memory Gym for Your Brain

  June 07, 2017

By SMART Brain Aging

My story is just like anyone else that has been touched by the disease dementia. It all started with my grandmother, Jean Seeling. She passed away in 2013, but we lost her long before that day. My grandmother was an extremely vibrant woman, an amazingly strong and independent woman. She was one of the first women in her generation to attend college, back when most women didn’t. She helped raise me, along with my mom, and was a major influence in my life.

As she was growing older, I was away at medical school in Boston. Among my studies, I was learning about the brain. The state-of-the-art research of cognitive intervention and brain games to stall the onset of dementia fascinated me. When I came home for a visit, I shared with my grandmother what I learning and encouraged her to try some of the brain games. Grandma would tell me, “I’m not like those people.” As I watched her decline more and more each time I visited her, I wanted to help her. But her will to try was gone; she’d say, “Honey, I’m just old.” Grandma was just like “those people.”

Dementia is on the rise, and it will affect each and every one of us in some way. The experience of watching my grandmother fade away as I helplessly watched lit a fire under me. It drives me. It’s my passion to learn all there is to know about this cruel disease. I’ve come to realize this is my spiritual mission, to prevent other families from experiencing the hardships of dementia like my family did. We may not be able to cure it, but if we can mitigate it by 25, 30 percent, or more, just imagine the tremendous impact that would make on the world.
We’re facing a giant named dementia, and it’s expected to grow 50 to 75 percent in Arizona over the next five to 10 years.

What is dementia?
Simply put, dementia is the decline in a person’s mental ability serious enough to interfere with their daily activities. It can affect a person’s memory and communication skills. It inhibits the ability to focus, pay attention, and the judgement and reasoning functions. For many types of dementia, the symptoms start out slowly and progress gradually with time, making it difficult to notice. Often, symptoms of dementia are shrugged off as normal declines due to aging. Many people suffer from dementia, but it actually isn’t a natural part of aging and it can be prevented.

Myths: What dementia is not!
There are many myths associated with dementia. By knowing the facts, you gain great strides in the treatment and prevention of the disease. Some of these myths include the following:

•    We cannot prevent dementia
    This is false and totally misleading. It actually prevents us from taking action. It’s true, there’s no cure and no way to reverse dementia, but there are many things we can do to mitigate it, delay its onset, and lessen the severity of its symptoms.

•    Dementia is a normal part of aging
    Lots of people grow old and never develop dementia, so no, dementia is not a normal part of aging. Memory loss can also be a sign of dehydration, urinary tract infections, cardiovascular disease, and other illnesses.

•    Dementia is hereditary
    Only a few hundred families in the world have this genetic problem. Even in these families, lifestyle changes can make a difference in the rate at which they develop symptoms. The hereditary type of dementia normally develops before the age of 65 and is different than dementia that forms in old age.

•    Simply keeping the brain active can prevent dementia
    Brain activity alone is not sufficient. The brain needs to be worked by participating in structured and challenging learning. It can be fun, but it needs to be work, similar to how physical exercises have to be challenging to work and stretch the muscles to stay strong. Like an athlete continues to train during the off-season, we need to constantly work our brains as we age. If you don’t use it… you will lose it.
SMART Brain Aging: the memory “gym” for your brain
Research shows learning new things and exercising the brain, like with brain games, can maintain brain health and mitigate memory loss. With dementia rising in the next decade, now is the time to start doing things to prevent memory loss and the onset of dementia.
SMART Brain Aging offers help, information, programs, and support designed to prevent the onset of dementia and slow down its progress. When the brain learns new, fresh, and innovative information, it releases glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter released by nerve cells in the brain. Glutamate plays an intricate role to keep the brain strong and healthy, and it prevents memory loss.

BRAIN U Online
The “use it or loss it” analogy truly does apply to dementia, so Brain U offers structured lessons designed to challenge and engage the brain, helping it to continue to release glutamate. Each “student” starts by taking an evaluation exercise to determine his or her current skill level and memory retention. With that information, a unique course of lessons is tailored just for that individual. They can simply log into your Brain U Online account and complete the exercises at the scheduled time they set up.

Brain U Online is idea for anyone to use, whether you are taking preventative measures to decrease the onset of dementia, for those already experiencing memory loss, and even those in the beginning stages of dementia. There is no cure for this disease yet, but with the right techniques and some lifestyle changes, we are able to slow down the progress of it. Visit Brain U online to enroll and get started at

Covered by Medicare
One of the best things about Brain U is it is completely covered by Medicare, so there is no reason not to take the preventative measure of exercising your brain.

The SMART Brain Aging team  
For Dr. DenBoer, family is everything, and this includes his work family, among which included his mom, Joan Seeling. They are facing the giant of dementia, but together as a family, they are taking on the fight. Dr. DenBoer strives for a team that is like family, and wants to share that bond with the community. Dr. DenBoer married his wife, Natalie, in October of 2016. They are proud parents of two adorable golden retrievers. When Dr. DenBoer is not working with the community on spreading dementia awareness, he enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, and traveling back to Wisconsin.

To give aging individuals and their families the gift of time through improved quality of life during aging. Our mantra is “brain health for life.”
SMART Brain Aging is making a huge impact on the community and is continuing to grow, with 14 clinics around the Valley, and plans to expand to 20 locations soon.

For more information, contact SMART Brain Aging
5111 S Scottsdale Road, Suite 105, Scottsdale
Phone: 1-855-BSMART-0
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June 07, 2017
Categories:  Disease/Illness
Keywords:  Feature Story

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