Memory Enhancement Program at School of Nursing Receives National Award from American Society on Aging

The SeniorWISE (Wisdom is Simply Exploration) project, a University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing program to enhance mental fitness in older adults, has received the MindAlert Award from the American Society on Aging in collaboration with the MetLife Foundation.

The 2010 MindAlert awards are given to innovative scientific-based programs that enhance functioning and quality of life or prevent functional decline in older adults.

The SeniorWISE project will be honored during the National Forum on Brain Fitness March 17 in Chicago in conjunction with the Aging in America Conference of the American Society on Aging and National Council.

SeniorWISE was a five-year longitudinal research study funded by the National Institutes on Aging that looked at whether memory versus health training would improve memory performance and everyday function in community-residing older adults. Conducted at the School of Nursing and headed by Dr. Graham J. McDougall, SeniorWISE followed 265 seniors for two years, 140 of whom participated in an eight-week memory class.

The study found significant improvement in the memory-training group in the areas of cognitive function, use of memory strategies, memory self-efficacy, functional ability and decreased symptoms of depression, particularly for the African-American and Hispanic participants. SeniorWISE is being used in various locations in Austin and in Arkansas. Both of these recent efforts are being funded by federal research dollars from the Centers for Disease Control and the Administration on Aging.

Funding for SeniorWISE has come from the National Institutes of Health and most recently, the Administration on Aging.