New Program Focuses on the Aging Brain
Published June 12th, 2014
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- As we age, it becomes just as important to stay mentally sharp as it is to stay physically healthy. Even though your brain can't "pump iron" like your muscles can, a new local program aims to help work out your mind.
"I still feel young inside," 92-year-old Anetta Mitchell says. Mitchell is a resident at The Village retirement community and a participant in the UF Health Vitality Mind program.
"I like to play games on the computer at home," she says, "I think that is keeps my brain active."
It's that mindset that cognitive aging researchers from the University of Florida hope to study through a new program. UF Health Vitalty Mind is partnership between the university and The Village.
Using cognitive assessments and interventions, organizers hope to study the effect these programs have on participants' ability to perform everyday tasks and improve brain health.
"We're seeing the community get healthier and more independent than we have in the past," Village Director James Antonucci says.
As a part of the Vitality Program - an ongoing initiative at The Village - the UF Health Vitality Mind studies launched this month.
Adults will do things like use the computer, play video games, and even practice mindfullness meditation - all healthy behaviors designed to offer a cognative boost.
"With mindfulness meditation, there is neuronal growth in the frontal lobe and the frontal lobes are often times affected in older adults, it's just a normal thing happens when you're aging," Dr. London Butterfield, the UF Health Vitality Mind program coordinator, says, "So targeting that area of the brain and targeting the ability to increase and improve your attention will therefore help your memory and allow you to be more present, and hopefully think more clearly and improve mood as well."
Researchers say studying the impact of these interventions could help to change the way we view aging and retirement.
"We think late life is a time when we settle into a routine," researcher Dr. Michael Marsiske explains, "But actually continuing to do new things is the best thing we can do both for mental health and cognitive function."
The program is open to anyone age 60 or older if they meet certain requirements regardless of whether they live at The Village.
For more information visit: vitalitymind.phhp.ufl.edu
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