Living Well in the Gorge March 16th 2022

For some reason, the brain thinks it’s the most important organ in our body. No other organ must have a special week. There’s not a Kidney Awareness Week, or Liver Awareness Week. But there is Brain Awareness Week which this year is March 14th through March 18th.

Brain Awareness Week was founded by the Dana Foundation to better understand our brains through brain science research so as older adults we can continue to enjoy our later years. Another independent leader in understanding the brain is SharpBrains whose focus is tracking health and performance applications of brain research. As with the Dana Foundation, their website offers fascinating information about the brain including a list of ten lifestyle activities to help maintain and improve your brain health – which my brain is selfishly telling me to share with you. It is an abbreviated version - since we all have things to do and people to meet.

1. Better understand your brain. “It will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses”. If you want to imagine you’re back in school, Dana Foundation has lessons about the brain for grades K-12.  

2. Eat well. The “brain only weighs 2% of body mass but consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients we intake.”

3. Exercise. “Things that exercise your body can also help sharpen your brain”. And anything is always better than nothing.

4. Be positive. “Stress and anxiety, no matter whether induced by external events or by your own thoughts, actually kills neurons and prevents the creation of new ones. You can think of chronic stress as the opposite of exercise: it prevents the creation of new neurons.” So now I can stress about being too stressed!

5. Engage in Mental Challenges. “The point of having a brain is precisely to learn and to adapt to challenging new environments. Challenge your brain often with fundamentally new activities”. 

6. Aim high. “The brain keeps developing, no matter your age, and it reflects what you do with it.”

7. Explore and travel. “Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment. Make new decisions, use your brain.” So getting lost is a good thing?

8. Think for yourself. “Make your own decisions, and mistakes. And learn from them. That way, you are training your brain, not your neighbor’s”.

9. Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. “We are social animals and need social interaction”. 

10. Laugh loud and often, “especially to cognitively complex humor, full of twists and surprises”. Did you hear about the man who put on a clean pair of socks every day of the week? By Friday he could hardly get his shoes on. Okay, that may not count as complex humor.

In a nutshell, to keep your brain happy, practice the four components of good brain health: physical exercise, a balanced diet, stress management, and brain exercise.

Did you remember to turn back your clocks on Sunday? Before phones and clocks that automatically change the time, you could tell who hadn’t adjusted their clocks by who arrived at church an hour late.

The name of the two-dimensional sports game that simulates table tennis introduced in 1972 (That’s fifty years ago or worse yet a half a century ago!) and became the first successful video arcade game was not Ping but Pong. I received answers from Dennis Morgan, Jeannie Pesicka, Rhonda Spies, Donna Mollett, Rebecca Abrams, Keith and Marlene Clymer, Gene Uczen, Rose Schulz, Dave Lutgens, Doug Nelson, and Lana Tepfer this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And those who I know I missed last week were Linda Frizzell and Maria Kollas.

During my grade school days, I enjoyed reading the Hardy Boys mysteries but never heard of this prolific mystery writer. For this week’s ”Remember When” question, who was the best-selling fiction writer of all time who wrote sixty-six detective novels between 1921 and 1973 and sold over two billion copies? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788, or send with two tickets on the Orient Express.

Well, it’s been another week, checking my pillbox to know what day it is. Until we meet again, just because you are wandering, doesn’t mean you are lost – as I often tell myself.

“If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple of payments.” Steven Wright

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