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AARP Bulletin

Tips to Keep Your Brain Healthy

'Staying Sharp' workshop March 29

"Be with people you care about," Hulstra regularly tells audiences. "Older persons with fewer social ties are more likely to develop memory decline than others with stronger ties to family."

Hulstra also recommends joining a book club, reading to children at an elementary school, volunteering and doing brain exercises such as learning a new language or taking up a new hobby.

"Just like your muscles, your brain needs exercise, too," he said.

Workshop speakers will recommend other steps to keep aging minds sharp: reduce tension and stress; avoid distractions; slow the pace of daily life; concentrate to absorb new information, including writing it, visualizing it and repeating it aloud.

Another suggestion is to vary a routine walking route, forcing the brain to pick out new cues.

What you do matters

Richard Restak, M.D., a professor of neurology at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., said people "have lots of latitude making choices of how their brain will age, based on social contacts, diets, cessation of smoking and much more. We can influence aging favorably."

Hall said she and other speakers will offer exercises to help promote mental acuity.

The "tell yourself a story" memory game is one of Hall's favorites. She begins by showing the audience 15 to 20 objects or a photo of them. After removing the photo or objects from sight, she finds out how many of the objects those in the audience can recall.

"Then you tell them a story," Hall said, "using the objects as part of the story. For example, if the objects are an apple, a key, and a cellphone, the story might start with 'Steve saw an apple on a tree, but it was behind a locked gate. He tried his key, but it wouldn't work. So he got out his cellphone to call Anita to see if she would help.' "

Hall said the memory game "illustrates how much better things are remembered if you connect them."

The March 29 workshop is 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the First Church of God, 506 Pine St., Doniphan. Admission is free, and lunch will be provided. Participants must register by calling the Ripley County Public Health Center at 573-996-2181.

Steve Weinberg is a writer living in Columbia, Mo.

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VIDEO EXTRA

BRAIN HEALTH: The latest research shows our brains don’t necessarily deteriorate as we age and brain atrophy is reversible. There are many ways to keep our brains fit, just as we exercise other parts of our body to keep them healthy.

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