Brain fitness on the minds of local seniors

    We’ve all been told how physical fitness and good nutrition play a critical role in adding years to our lives.

    But how important is mental fitness in the aging process?

    We’ve all been told how physical fitness and good nutrition play a critical role in adding years to our lives.

    But how important is mental fitness in the aging process?

    According to the members of the Delaware Mental Fitness Coalition, mental stimulation is just as important in keeping people healthy as physical activity.

    A new event, sponsored by AstraZeneca, focuses on encouraging this type of positive aging through a series of mental fitness activities in Delaware.

    The Wilmington Senior Center is one of eight different agencies throughout Delaware participating in this year’s Brain Health Day. Executive Director Susan Getman says she hopes the event helps people recognize the importance of brain health and motivates them to stay active. “Everybody is concerned about Alzheimer’s Disease and losing their memory,” Getman says, “Some of the activities we are promoting have proven to be very effective in preventing some of the loss that people are concerned about.”

    At the mental fitness fair today, the WSC hosted a series of round robin games and mental activities for dozens of seniors including puzzles, cards, board games, bingo and even hula hoop exercises. Getman says it was all part of an effort to encourage aging individuals to pay attention to five key aspects of creating healthy lifestyles.

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    92 year-old Nathaniel Thompkins visits the center at least 10 times a month and participates in a strength and exercise class each week. He says brain stimulation is essential in a person’s mental upkeep. “I feel that this event is quite a treat for we seniors,” Thompkins says, “It’s great that we get this education, we really appreciate it.”

    Mary Lee is a frequent visitor of the center who stays sharp while working on puzzles at home. She says this type of mental activity is vital. “It’s wonderful,” Lee says, “It’s what we need to keep our little brains active”

    Susan Getman encourages aging adults to engage in a significant amount of mental activity each day. “Whatever is good for your body is good for your brain,” she says. Getman suggests that seniors take frequent walks, participate in exercise classes, eat healthy diets and spend quality time out of the isolation of their own homes.

    Click on image to view a slideshow.
    Click on image to view a slideshow.

    Additional agencies participating in this year’s Brain Health Day include the Newark Senior Center, the Academy of Lifelong Learning, New Castle Senior Center, St. Anthony’s Senior Center, GEM Jewish Family Services, Mid-County Senior Center and MOT Jean Burch Community Center.

    All participating seniors are invited to end the day at a seminar on “Aging Gracefully” presented by Dr. Ina Li from Family, Community & Geriatric Medicine at Christiana Care at 7pm at the Newark Senior Center.

    Getman says many seniors are taking the right steps towards a healthy lifestyle but there is always room for improvement. She says she hopes this event is something that continues for years to come.

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