Sessions for Brain Health Awareness
14 May 2015
Aged Care Reviews
A new initiative, titled “Your Brain Matters”, is being trialled in Australia, and it is starting to look like a success. Its purpose is to help make people aware of the risks of Alzheimer’s disease, and how it can be prevented by people of working age.
The organization that initiated the trial is called Alzheimer’s Australia, and is located in Victoria. Their goal with this new scheme, is to spread knowledge about the real-life risks of Alzheimer’s. In addition, they are helping people learn how to make their own brains as healthy as possible.
40 different sessions were hosted, at a variety of workplace environments. Most of the workers who attended were 40 years old or more. None of the workplaces made taking part in the sessions mandatory, but there was a good number of volunteers.
What was taking place at these special brain sessions? They were designed to be as interactive as possible. Information about the context of Alzheimer’s was shared with attendees, as well as important things that people need to understand about this disease. One of the big focuses was the different parts of their lifestyles that people could change.
Some of the main things that people should be looking at include exercise, diet, having a healthy heart, and different things people can do to keep their brains as healthy and active as possible. These things are considered especially important as people get older. However, it is never too early to become concerned with having a healthy body and mind.
Kelly Bryden is a project officer with Alzheimer’s Australia (Victoria). She spoke about the importance of stimulating the brain with challenging activities. She stated that, “It is important to make things progressively more complicated or difficult so that it remains challenging.” Social activities are a great way to stay healthy too, Bryden said. This is especially true for those that involve physical exercise.
In a survey, people from a participating group stated that they had started to take part in medieval sword fighting. In addition to this rather unique activity, others were encouraged to participate in camping and riding horses. These sorts of activities have great psychological and physical benefits.
Alzheimer’s Australia has created an app that allows users to log their activities, exercise routines, and diet. It also includes special brain games, to stimulate the mind. People who took part in the “Your Brain Matters” sessions were encouraged to start using this app, so they could continue practicing what they learned.
Bryden discussed the preliminary findings from the sessions, while attending the Melbourne National Dementia Congress. She said that the early feedback had already been very positive, with 93 percent of people saying they now knew more about Alzheimer’s.
In addition to this statistic, Bryden’s team discovered that 90 percent of the session attendees had plans to change their way of living. In comparison to this, only 36 percent of the control group, who didn’t attend the sessions, intended to make any improvements.
The actual numbers of people who followed through with those changes was also encouraging. 64 percent of the survey participants actually did something about changing their lifestyles. This is a surprising amount of the surveyed group, and shows that perhaps more education is required about brain health.
One of the largest problems that many older people face, is having too few things to do. While there are often smaller chores and errands to be done, those things are not on par with activities that younger people take for granted. Simply having a job, and being asked to carry out numerous tasks throughout the day, can keep the brain very active. In addition to this are the social aspects that comes along with working. A lot of people do not consider what they will do to keep their minds active, after they are retired.
It is not always possible to rely on spouses, partners, family, or friends to help individuals maintain mental health. A well-chosen aged care facility, with qualified staff, and a community of residents, is often the best choice for the elderly. Alzheimer’s, and other conditions, can be avoided with the right planning and care. There is no sense in waiting until it is too late.