We’ve all heard the phrase “Use it or lose it.” That phrase is particularly true when it comes to cognitive health and brain function. Studies have regularly shown that daily intellectual challenges and other “brain fitness” activities can dramatically improve overall cerebral health while also staving off the mental decline typically seen in aging adults. That’s why events like the annual Brain Awareness Week that takes place every March are so important.
No More Brain Drain
BAW was launched in 1995 by the Society for Neuroscience and Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives along with International Brain Bee contest and other organizations. Over the years, more than 55 countries have hosted over 1,000 BAW-related events. As the Society for Neuroscience explains, BAW events are “limited only by the organizers’ imaginations.”
A “global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of bain research,” BAW partners with organizations around the world for “a celebration of the brain.” This year’s BAW takes place from March 12-18, and several events are already in the works, including conferences and forums, workshops, exhibits, and even a Brain-a-Palooza at an Alabama elementary school.
By bringing much-needed exposure to the issues of brain performance, function, and health, organizers hope to provide the general public with valuable information on how to keep their minds clear and capable, regardless of age or education.
Seniors and Senility
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Every 60 seconds someone in the U.S. develops this disease. The healthcare costs associated with the care and treatment of dementia sufferers could reach $1.1 trillion by 2050, and as baby boomers age and as modern science extends lifespans, deaths related to Alzheimer’s and its associated diseases have increased by 80%. This disease kills more Americans than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
While research is making headway towards developing preventative measures, currently one of the best ways to manage age-related memory issues is through proactive strategies. Some ways to improve brain function include participating in physical activity and brain-training games, reducing stress, improving sleep hygiene, and strengthening social connections. Seniors who are open to new experiences, demonstrate curiosity and creativity, and participate in mindfulness meditation also show improved cognitive function as they age.
Brain Awareness Week is a fantastic opportunity for senior living providers and caregivers to educate residents and their families about all the ways to improve cerebral health and mental function. Senior living providers interested in participating in BAW should check out the organization’s website for more information. BAW offers an event planning page that provides tips and guidelines for organizing a BAW event.
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