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News - May 7, 2021


CONTACT:  Martha Serna | 202.518.6493 |

Goodwin House Incorporated Partners with George Mason University to Further Study Impact of StrongerMemory Program on Memory, Cognition and Life Satisfaction

Participants in the Initial Study Indicate Satisfaction, Enthusiasm and Commitment to the StrongerMemory Program

Alexandria, Va. – Goodwin House Incorporated (GHI) has partnered with the George Mason University (Mason) Department of Social Work to study the impact of the GHI StrongerMemory Program on cognitive ability, memory retrieval and life satisfaction. The study will include residents of the two GHI Life Plan Communities (Goodwin House Alexandria and Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads) and members of Goodwin House at Home who participated in the program. The research will build on an earlier 11-week study completed in Fall 2020, where a team of Mason gerontology researchers and students interviewed 21 StrongerMemory participants from the GHI pilot program as well as three caregivers. In March 2021, Mason launched phase two of the study with a focus on pre- and post-testing of participants using the MoCA Memory Functioning Questionnaire (MFQ) and a brief Life Satisfaction scale.

The StrongerMemory program was created by Rob Liebreich, President and CEO of GHI, after observing his mother’s challenges with mild cognitive impairment. Inspired by a program that was developed for nursing care residents who had advanced dementia, Liebreich developed and implemented StrongerMemory, designed to stimulate the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which governs our ability to retrieve memories, by having participants spend just 20 to 30 minutes a day engaged in simple reading, writing and math activities. The goal of StrongerMemory is to delay or slow the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and/or dementia.

“After introducing a daily curriculum to read out loud, hand write and complete basic math quickly with my mother, our family saw significant changes for the better in a matter of a month,” said Liebreich. “Sharing her story and watching the program unfold to help older adults at the Goodwin House Life Plan Communities and members of Goodwin House at Home combat the impact of dementia has been rewarding. Our goal now is to help 100,000 people by 2023 with the benefits of StrongerMemory. We plan to do this by offering the program for free, and creating partnerships to reach those who would benefit.”

“Participants in the initial study were highly motivated to integrate StrongerMemory into their daily lives and showed willingness to complete the activities to stay cognitively fit. Our initial interviews show satisfaction, enthusiasm and commitment to the StrongerMemory program,” said Dr. Catherine Tompkins, PhD, MSW, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at George Mason University.

In their report on the initial study exploring common themes from interviewing StrongerMemory participants about their experiences, the Mason gerontology researchers and students found that:

  • Participants were motivated to participate in the program due to fear of memory loss because of experiences of family members and friends. Others indicated that they had observed themselves becoming forgetful, whether due to normal aging or another reason.
  • Participants perceived “being cognitively fit” as just as important as being “physically fit” to prevent cognitive impairment and reported a self-perception of being “less foggy” and able to remember things differently than they could before starting the program.
  • Participants were eager to continue the program and have begun integrating what they have learned from the StrongerMemory program into their daily lives.

“The StrongerMemory program is a brain health intervention that the Mason Gerontology Research Team enthusiastically embraces,” said Dr. Emily Ihara, PhD, MSW, Chair of Mason’s Department of Social Work. “Our research team looks forward to a continued partnership with Goodwin House Incorporated to collect data and measure how the program can positively impact older adults in phase two of our study.”

As part of innovative efforts by GHI to improve brain health in older adults, GHI recently created the role of Brain Health Program Manager and successfully recruited Jessica Fredericksen to serve in this new role. Fredericksen is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) with a Masters in Gerontological Social Work (MSW) from Washington University in St. Louis. She will lead GHI towards its goal to touch the lives of 100,000 older adults with StrongerMemory by 2023.

For additional information on the StrongerMemory program, please visit


About Goodwin House Incorporated: Celebrating 54 years of providing exceptional service to older adults, Goodwin House Incorporated (GHI) is a not-for-profit, Virginia-based corporation affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Through its growing family of senior living and healthcare services owned and operated across Northern Virginia, GHI serves 2,000 older adults with options that include: two Life Plan Communities—Goodwin House Alexandria and Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads; an innovative continuing care at home program—Goodwin House at Home; and a portfolio of healthcare services and partnerships delivering Home Health, Rehabilitation, Primary Care, Palliative Care and Hospice. GHI also is the management agent for The Lewinsville Retirement Residences, Inc. serving low-income older adults in McLean and Great Falls, Virginia.

GHI also advances its mission through the Goodwin House Foundation, a 501(c)(3) supporting foundation that provides financial support to current and future residents in need and to fund programs dedicated to promoting growth and education of staff as well as overall well-being and vibrant living as we age.

About George Mason University Department of Social Work

The Department of Social Work in the College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University prepares students to improve the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. As a CSWE-accredited program, the department focuses on assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating programs at all levels to affect social change. Faculty research in the Department of Social Work focuses on identifying and developing effective interventions based on scientific theory. We perform applied social science research that works to solve individual, family, community, and social problems and investigates systemic inequities in power and unequal access to resources.


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