SAIDO Learning: A New Approach to Memory Care

Sep 24, 2020

seniors in a saido learning session
More than 5 million Americans live with age-related dementias. Over 70% of dementia cases are due to Alzheimer’s. By 2050, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates 14 million Americans will be diagnosed with this disease. It is currently the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

After a dementia diagnosis, many families and caregivers struggle to remain positive. The staff at Sunset Senior Communities want you to know that you are not alone on this journey. Our Memory Care services give hope to those affected by dementia and provide support to caregivers and family members. One of Waterford Place’s licensed programs, SAIDO Learning, has been proven to slow and even reverse the symptoms of dementia without the use of pharmaceuticals.

What is SAIDO Learning?

SAIDO Learning was developed by the Kumon Institute of Education with Professor Ryuta Kawashima of Tohoku University and it has been practiced in Japan since 2004. Instead of relying on pharmacological treatments, senior citizens engage in simple arithmetic, reading, and writing exercises. SAIDO has been shown to slow the progression of symptoms of dementia among senior citizens. SAIDO is practiced in around 1,400 nursing facilities in Japan and is beginning to be practiced here in the United States.

How does it work?

SAIDO Learning takes place with a trained caregiver (called a “Supporter”) working with two patients (called “Learners”). The caregiver engages the two Learners in a series of simple math, reading, and writing exercises. Learners participate in these exercises five times a week with each session lasting 20 to 30 minutes. SAIDO combats dementia symptoms by improving the function of the brain’s prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for a variety of complex behavior including planning, decision making, and memory recall.

What activities does it include?

Learners progress through different activity levels at their own pace. Activities include matching numbers, solving simple math problems, reading aloud, and simple writing exercises. The object of SAIDO is not to teach new material, but to engage the Learner with repeated exercises. This boosts the Learner’s sense of accomplishment, confidence, and increases a desire to try new things. SAIDO helps improve learner’s quality of life through these opportunities for social and mental engagement.

What have the results been?

The results of SAIDO Learning have been extraordinary. Residents are reading again, calling family members by name, and communicating their basic needs. They are also more engaged in day-to-day activities, more socially involved with family and friends, and have an increased sense of optimism and purpose. Progress and results vary by patient and learning sessions must be ongoing for the effects to be maintained.

Where is SAIDO Learning available?

SAIDO Learning is a licensed program available at Waterford Place Memory Care. Waterford has been recognized as a Model Home Community and meets the highest standards and practices set forth by the Kumon Institute. In November 2019, representatives from the Kumon Institute traveled to Waterford Place for a special ceremony and celebration. Waterford Place is one of 23 senior living communities in the U.S. offering the program.

Through this and other programs, Sunset Senior Communities offers hope for those affected by dementia. Please contact Waterford Place for more information about this and other care options.