Program 11 – Spare a Thought for your Brain

Spare a Thought for your Brain
How insights from science can help older men not to lose their wits

To be added

Rajiv Chand
Dr Lyndsey Collins-Praino
Rex Lipman AO
For details on all interviewees contributing to this project, please click here

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Discussion Starter
Keeping your mind sharp by using it frequently and in challenging ways, is old news. What isn’t well known, in fact what is news to most people, is that a healthy mind depends on a healthy brain. The bourgeoning knowledge of neuroscience is providing new insights into how our brains function, and how brain health profoundly impacts on not only our cognitive ability – our capacity to remember and think effectively, but also on our mental health.

Turns out we can now take steps to keep our brain healthy, and to reduce the risk of dementia later in life. We know that exercising our brain by exercising our mind is important, but like all other body organs the brain stays healthier if we stay in good physical shape, by exercising regularly, eating healthy food, and taking care of our heart and vascular health.

It is also apparently the case, that being sociable and engaging with new challenges and experiences are also really good for brain health. Actually, healthy mind, healthy body, and good mental health are all intertwined, and so when we adopt health lifestyle choices, we achieve some serious gains for mental, physical, and cognitive health.

For older men discouraged by cultural messages of ageing – those of redundancy, inevitable decline and debilitation, this all comes as a timely challenge to prove the doomsayers wrong. It is much more possible than ever we imagined that we can continue to function effectively right into old age – if we get the health maintenance settings right early enough. There is a good chance of not only ‘staying with it’, but also going on to conquer new frontiers in our own lives and as productive and creative contributors to society.

There is good reason to take on a new hobby, to eat healthy meals, to welcome a mental challenge, to embark on a new adventure, to get physical, and to start a social calendar; because keeping our wits may depend on it.

1. In what ways do the prevailing assumptions of ageing encourage poor health choices for older men, and thus a greater likelihood of mental decline?
2. What part does gender play in determining opportunities for social interaction and remaining active and healthy in later life?
3. What role does work play in the likelihood of brain health or decline in older men?

Related Resources
Article – New York Times – Mental Reserves Keep Brain Agile
Article – New York Times – Does Exercise Really Make Us Smarter?
Article – The Independent – Forgetful? Distracted? Foggy? – How to Keep Your Brain Young
Book – Don’t Miss the Bus, by Rex J Lipman AO
Training Program for Professionals – Brain Health and the Possibilities of Self-Mastery
Website – Your Brain Matters
Website – Alzheimers Australia

Project Consultant
Dr John Ashfield