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.
October Programs - Boost Your Brain
Baltimore County Senior Centers are sponsoring many programs on topics related to Brain Matters. For October, the topic is Boost Your Brain. A number of Baltimore County senior centers are offering special activities intended to help you improve your brain functioning. Refer to the Brain Matters Brochure (PDF) for more details on upcoming programs.
Join us on Friday, October 7, at 11 a.m., for Boost Your Brain: Evidence-Based Principles and Technologies that Enhance Brain Function, presented by Kate Ortman, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Brain Training of Maryland. Learn about strategies and techniques that improve brain fitness. Attendees will benefit from discovering more about neuroplasticity, the brain’s extraordinary ability to rewire and change. The presentation will be held at Arbutus Senior Center, 855A Sulphur Spring Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21227.
Risk Factor - Lack of Intellectual Stimulation
We are also planning programs for our brain health risk factor of the month – for October, Lack of Intellectual Stimulation.
Technology to Enhance Your Life
Join Ted Meyerson from the Better Aging Foundation of Maryland to learn about technology you can use now and some amazing upcoming devices.
Finding Reliable Health Information on the Internet
Director Linda Gorman of the Harrison Library at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center will give you research strategies to help you find reliable health information on the Internet.
How to Keep your Pet's Brain and Body Healthy
Katie Flory, Community Affairs Director for the Maryland SPCA, will discuss the importance of keeping your pet’s brain active and healthy.
Below are some resources for those who are interested in more information and relevant research on Brain Matters.
Boost Your Brain
- Live Science: Ultrasound May Boost Brain Performance
- wikiHow: How to Boost Brain Power
- Science Daily: Hormone Therapy for Brain Performance
Lack of Intellectual Stimulation
- My VMC: Effects of Mental Activity on Health
- The Doctor Will See You Now: Intellectual Stimulation, a Hedge Against Addiction?
- Wikipedia: Mental Exercise
November Programs – Plan Ahead!
Find out what Brain Matters Programs (PDF) are coming in November.
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 28, 2016