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Brain Exercise for Older Adults

Brain Exercise for Older Adults

Looking for ways to keep your mind sharp? Read this guest blog post from Dick Harp, director of our OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) program for adults 50 and older:

I have been reading about people who are experiencing various stages of dementia. My interest in this matter grew when a good friend of mine moved into a facility that specializes in the treatment of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Pen Pencil and Ink Drawing class at OLLI

Pen Pencil and Ink Drawing class at OLLI

I visit him often and it’s hard to believe and accept the changes in him over the past few years. He was one of the brightest individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. My visits have included discussions with his family and several doctors and psychologists that work at the facility.

There is presently no cure for this disease. There is a great deal of research being conducted by scientists and pharmaceutical companies hoping to find a cure. However, there are theories about prevention or possible postponement of this disease. Not all of the doctors and psychologists agree on this but most feel that stimulating the brain can be very beneficial.

I have always believed in and used the phrase, “Use it or lose it,” pertaining to using your mind and actively stimulating your brain. We used this phrase in the early years of our OLLI experience here at KSU.

Bridge at OLLI

Bridge in the OLLI Club Room

Back then I remember reading some quotations from Dr. Amir Soas who, at the time, was at Case Western Reserve University Medical School in Cleveland. Dr. Soas said the most important thing to do was to “Read, read, read.”

He also suggested doing crossword puzzles, pulling out the chessboard or scrabble board, learning a foreign language or a new hobby – anything to stimulate the brain.

Other suggestions were made by researchers such as cutting back on television. When you watch TV, your brain goes into neutral.

I am not claiming that participating in our OLLI program will prevent dementia. However, I am convinced that keeping your brain active certainly can’t hurt. Our OLLI programs offer opportunities for members to stay stimulated, make new friendships and enjoy learning new things — whatever they might be.

Hope to see you in class soon.

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