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.
Results from the second quarter "Your Emotions and Your Brain" evaluation show that in almost every category, the impact of the Brain Matters initiative has been very positive with higher percentages than in the first quarter. The second quarter evaluation results are as follows:
- 84 percent of respondents were aware of the Brain Matters initiative (93 percent heard through the senior centers, 16 percent from the Senior Digest magazine,16 percent saw the brochure and four percent learned about the initiative from the county website)
- 49 percent of respondents said they had attended at least one program about brain health, with the majority averaging two or three programs
- 76 percent of respondents had read something about improving brain health, overall averaging three articles
- 70 percent said they took action to improve their own brain health, with puzzles, reading, playing brain games, exercising more and changing their diet continuing to be the most popular ways
- 68 percent said their understanding of brain diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Dementia has increased as a result of the Brain Matters initiative
- 77 percent had a better understanding of how depression impacts brain health, 80 percent know more about how lack of social activity impacts brain health and 74 percent increased their awareness of medication interactions
- In the future, 45 percent of respondents planned to attend a community-based education program, 73 percent planned to attend a senior center program, 49 percent thought they would attend a Brain Game Trivia Contest and 32 percent plan to attend the Get Ready! Get Set! Get Fit! 5K Run/Walk and 1 Mile Run/Walk
Please see below for testimonials from participants.
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.
Survey comments from Brain Matters program participants indicate the influence these programs have had:
- “Brain Matters has helped to put a lot of things into perspective. Our brains should get a lot more attention than we give it. Without it we would not be here. We need to be diligent in taking good care of it and realize how delicate it is. What we feed our brains, whether physical or mental, can enhance or deteriorate it. Brain Matters is a great reinforcer and needs to remain in the forefront of our initiative for a healthy quality of life.”
- “Not exercising one’s brain can have an effect on one’s emotional state. The lack of social activities decrease and can lead to depression. I believe that a poor diet will certainly have an impact on the daily activities. If one does not eat well they cannot think well, and this will cause a breakdown of healthy brain functioning.”
- “I am more aware and tolerant of people with brain diseases as a result of Brain Matters.”
Revised September 1, 2016