HABIT Program: Frequently Asked Questions

Sep 3, 2019 | Miranda Morris, HABIT Program Coordinator | @mirandamorris



On our program overview tab of our page, we have information about our HABIT Healthy Action to Benefit Independence and thinking program for people diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment. However, as a program coordinator, I realized that I get a number of additional questions about the program. So, here I've put together a frequently asked questions list to help describe the program further!


What is a typical day like during the HABIT session?

While days and individual schedules will vary, the following represents a typical schedule:

9:00      Memory Compensation Training

10:00    Mind-Body Movement

11:00    Brain Fitness

Noon    Lunch break

1:00     Wellness Education

2:00     Peer Support Group Therapy (This is the only time of the day when you will be separated from your partner)

3:00     Dismiss


Should my family attend with me? Can my family participate in support group sessions?

Memory decline impacts the whole family, not just the person diagnosed with a memory disorder. This is why we include family in the program as a program partner. Each participant has one partner with them in the program. Partners might include a spouse, partner, sibling, children or those involved in a caring relationship. A desire by additional family members to participate in HABIT sessions indicates a willingness to learn how to better support the person with a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment. Additional fees may apply to having more than one Program Partner. To maintain the confidentiality of all patients, family members/friends other than the Program Partner cannot attend group sessions during the program.


Can I participate without a partner?

A Program Partner is required to participate because they will serve a critical role in the success of the Memory Compensation Training and ongoing support of the other lifestyle changes started in the HABIT program. Not only will this person help reinforce the things that are learned in the program during the session, they will also be instrumental in helping you keep up the new skills you have learned after the program ends. Unfortunately, you cannot participate unless you have a partner.


What should I wear?
Clothing should be comfortable, casual and appropriate for light stretching and movement. Tennis shoes or comfortable walking shoes are recommended.


I’ve heard about the calendar or “Memory Book” that is used in Memory Compensation Training. Will I need to buy these each year?

No. These specialized calendars are only available to HABIT Participants and their Program Partners and are created by Mayo Clinic. Each fall, you will receive a new set for both you and your partner at no additional charge. The program participation fee helps to cover this expense so we can continue to provide them for you indefinitely.


I know how to use a calendar so what is different about the one that is provided at HABIT?

The book that we use was designed specifically to help people with MCI and really goes beyond being a calendar. Certainly, the book is used to track appointments, but the memory book is more broadly used to track to do lists, document completion of projects, take notes or prepare questions for your doctor, etc. Thus, the book is really a calendar plus--which is a way to organize all the things you may be writing on a wall calendar, in a notebook, on sticky notes, etc. all in one place. The Memory Compensation training involves personalized guidance from a well-trained professional who will work with you and your partner to determine the best way to use the system to support your needs.


I have issues that make me nervous about participating in the Mind-Body Movement component. What is that like?

The Mind-Body Movement component combines light stretching and chair yoga that is tailored to older adults. The actions can be done entirely seated for those who need to remain seated. Our instructors will show you a range of ways the movements can be completed and you pick what is right for your body. The classes also include breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and mindfulness exercises. The yoga instructor takes special care to ensure that everyone is working to their appropriate level.


Is there any follow-up after I complete the two-week course?

Depending on location, we try to see you every 3 months at a Booster Session for the first year after you complete the program so we can check in to see how the system is working for you and help to keep you on track with your wellness activities. We also offer Peer Support Group Therapy each month at some sites for those who are interested. HABIT Participants from all past sessions are invited to these so you may meet new friends! We also have a private online peer support group on the Mayo Clinic Connect website. This group is only for those who have participated in HABIT and you will be given the information about joining at the end of your session.


How many other people will be in the class with me?

There are typically no fewer than 6 other couples and no greater than 15 other couples.


What are some of the outcomes that you have observed in people who have completed the program?

Some of the things we have found over the years include:

  • Those who master the Memory Support System and continue to use it daily after completing the program function better over time when compared to people who have been diagnosed with MCI but do not use the Memory Support System.
  • After completing HABIT, women with MCI report improved mood and men with MCI report improved confidence.
  • Program Partners report improved mood and a reduced sense of burden.


I am concerned about other people knowing about my diagnosis. How will you protect my identity in a group session with other couples?

We do not share the names of people who participate in the HABIT Program with people outside of the clinic without your permission. For example, if you called and wanted to be in the same session as your friend Sally but you did not know which dates she had chosen, we would not be able to tell you that information or even confirm that we spoke to your friend Sally. At the end of your HABIT session, we ask you what information you would like to share with the others in your class to stay in contact with them. You are welcome to share whatever you are comfortable with sharing and we will make sure that we have a very clear understanding of that. We will ask that you wear a name tag during the session so please let us know if you are not comfortable with having your last name on your name tag.


Does insurance cover this program?

There is an out of pocket fee that is required to cover the costs that are not billed to the insurance company (space rental, yoga instructor, materials, etc.).  This fee varies between sites. Additionally, your insurance company is billed for the cognitive rehabilitation and group therapy portions of the program (Memory Compensation Training and Peer Support Group Therapy). In the past, we have had good success with Medicare and supplemental insurances covering the billable costs of the program. If Medicare is not your primary insurance and you are interested in HABIT, we will begin the pre-certification and insurance review process prior to your HABIT session with the goal of having a final answer on insurance support 30 days prior the start date. We can also send you the billing codes so that you can check with your insurance company about what they will cover.


If you have other questions not answered here, please email HABITProgram@mayo.edu or call 904-953-8853 and we will be happy to help!

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