SAIDO Learning® is an innovative, non-pharmacological treatment that has been shown to improve the symptoms of memory loss among older adults with dementia. SAIDO Learning was developed by the Kumon Institute of Education (Kumon) of Osaka, Japan, in conjunction with Professor Ryuta Kawashima of the Smart Aging International Research Center (SAIRC) at Tohoku University in Sendai. It has been practiced for more than 12 years in more than 1,400 nursing facilities across Japan, showing stunning results in over 18,000 older adults. The goal of SAIDO Learning is to not only provide care for individuals with dementia, but to actually reverse and slow the progress of the symptoms, thus improving their quality of life and ultimately reducing the cost of their care.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia constitute the 6th leading cause of death in the United States today, with an estimated 5.5 million older adults diagnosed. Through SAIDO Learning, we can do more than just care for older adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia – we can treat it without the use of drugs and set goals for improvement.
The SAIDO Learning method involves a caregiver (called a “Supporter”) trained to work with two older adults (called “Learners”) by engaging them in a series of precise, yet simple, arithmetic, writing and reading exercises. The exercises are performed five times per week and last 30 minutes, in order to stimulate the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The object of the therapy is not to teach the material but to engage the Learner in the accomplishment of repeated successful exercises, progressing to new material at the Learner’s own level and pace. This process fosters confidence and the ability and initiative to advance. Most notably, the result is an improvement in cognitive function.
Many medical conditions can cause the symptoms of dementia is older adults. All dementias, however, reflect dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
SAIDO Learning has been demonstrated to improve the function of the prefrontal cortex of the brain, as measured by two standard-use cognitive tests: the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Frontal Assessment Battery at Bedside (FAB).
Outcome data on the efficacy of SAIDO Learning indicate measurable improvement of the prefontal cortex function in older adults with dementia. Within the first six months of participation in SAIDO Learning, nearly every Learner had improved performance on one or both standard-use assessments of cognitive impairment.
Qualitatively, the Learners showed increased independence in performance of Activities of Daily Living, increased social interaction and engagement, and decreased behaviors related to dementia.
Some Learners even resumed hobbies such as knitting and reading aloud to grandchildren.