There are many “brain fitness” programs out there. How do you decide which is best for you?

Surveys show that lots of people over 50 are worried about losing their brain power. For people who feel that way, there are quite a few alternatives, all claiming to make your brain and your memory sharper.

The market for these brain fitness programs, has grown rapidly, actually tripling in recent years. Retirement communities have jumped on the bandwagon, with 60% offering some kind of mental acuity classes or programs. And of course there are bewildering arrays of programs on the market in the form of games, personalized “training programs,” and other programs that promise to keep users sharp – for a price.

So, the question is, “Are these brain training programs worth your money?” Some people do benefit from these programs. But there is little solid evidence that they really work as advertised. “There’s not strong evidence that tailor-made brain games are any better than just, say, reading or doing a crossword puzzle or doing something else to stimulate the brain,” says Marc Agronin, director of mental health and clinical research at the Miami Jewish Health System and author of “How We Age.”

There are also some very real limitations For one, there is nothing you can do to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s, one of the more common brain diseases. Secondly, for healthy people, exercises can only do so much. Because they have what’s called a “ceiling effect” – you can only improve cognition to a point. Finally, these products might not do much good for people who are already sharp.

Want know more? Check out this brain training article in Smart Money Online.