Along with keeping our bodies fit, it is important to take steps to sustain brain health and fitness. Brain Health refers to one’s ability to learn, remember, organize, focus and maintain an active mind. In 2016 the Baltimore County Department of Aging’s initiative, Brain Matters, will offer resources and activities to enhance brain function, provide strategies to care for those facing dementia or mental health illnesses, identify possible risk factors and improve the quality of life for older adults. Each month there will be a focus on different aspects of brain health.
Complete the second quarter "Your Emotions and Your Brain" evaluation and be entered to win a $25 gift certificate from Ukazoo Books.
The first quarter evaluation results are as follows:
- 83.5 percent of respondents were aware of the Brain Matters initiative (89 percent heard through the senior centers, 11 percent from the Senior Digest magazine and seven percent saw the brochure)
- 42 percent of respondents said they had attended a program(s) about brain health - with the majority averaging two programs
- 72 percent of respondents had read something about improving brain health - an average of two articles
- 66 percent said they took action to improve their own brain health, with 40 percent starting puzzles, 30 percent reading, 29 percent playing brain games, 26 percent exercising more and 24 percent changing their diet
- 58 percent said their understanding of brain diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Dementia has increased as a result of the Brain Matters initiative
- 71 percent had a better understanding of how smoking impacts brain health, 70 percent know more about how heart disease impacts brain health and 68 percent increased their awareness of medication interactions
- In the future, 51 percent of respondents planned to attend a community-based education program, 66 percent planned to attend a senior center program and 28 percent thought they would attend the Caregivers Conference
September Programs - Brain Fitness
Baltimore County Senior Centers are sponsoring many programs on topics related to Brain Matters. For September, we look at Brain Fitness. A number of Baltimore County senior centers are offering special activities intended to help you have fun and improve your brain functioning. Refer to the Brain Matters Brochure (PDF) for more details on upcoming programs.
Join us on Wednesday, September 14, at 7 p.m., for What You Don't Know About Exercise: Top Five Hidden Benefits to Exercise, presented by Dr. Joe Palmer, DPT, OMPT, CSCS. Find out the benefits of exercise, including improved strength, endurance, and weight management. Participants will also learn strategies for making exercise a priority in their life. The presentation will be held at Active Life and Sports Physical Therapy, Perry Hall Square, 4337 Ebenezer Road, Nottingham, Maryland 21236.
Risk Factor - Lack of Exercise
We are also planning programs for our brain health risk factor of the month – for September, Lack of Exercise.
Tai Chi for Better Balance is a program which helps to improve balance, strength and physical performance as well as quality of life. Classes are highly participative, where mutual support and success build the participants' confidence in their ability to maintain active and fulfilling lives. Classes are offered at the following senior centers: Arbutus, Edgemere, Fleming, Reisterstown, Rosedale, Victory Villa, and Woodlawn. For more information on how to register for a class, call the Health and Wellness office at 410-887-2040.
An EnhanceFitness certified instructor will lead the class through an hour of dynamic exercises at a pace that’s right for the participants. Choose between a 20-minute aerobics workout or a walking workout to lively music. Classes also include a 20-minute strength training workout with soft ankle and wrist weights and a 10-minute stretching workout to keep the muscles flexible. EnhanceFitness classes are offered at the Arbutus, Bykota, Parkville and Seven Oaks Senior Centers. For more information on how to register for a class, call the Health and Wellness office at 410-887-2040.
Below are some resources for those who are interested in more information and relevant research on Brain Matters.
- Everyday Health – 10 brain exercises that boost memory
- Scientific American – Brain games: Do they really work?
Exercise and the Brain
- Harvard Health Publications – Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills
- National Center for Biotechnology Information – The influence of exercise on cognitive abilities
- The Guardian – How physical exercise makes your brain work better
- The Huffington Post – Three ways Tai Chi trains the brain
October Programs – Plan Ahead!
Find out what Brain Matters Programs (PDF) are coming in October.
Revised August 25, 2016