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The Suburbanite
  • Library offers tips for exercising minds

  • Andi Michelson, an occupational therapy assistant and professional speaker on aging and brain health, talked about various research studies on aging, memory and staying active as it relates to brain health.

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  • What’s good for the heart is good for the brain.
    That was one of the main messages at the Cognition and Brain Health seminar presented at the Jackson Township Branch of the Stark County District Library on Monday.
    Andi Michelson, an occupational therapy assistant and professional speaker on aging and brain health, talked about various research studies on aging, memory and staying active as it relates to brain health.
    “Some of the latest research shows we can take charge of our own cognition,” Michelson said. “There are … choices one can make for keeping our brain healthy, including eating right, staying active and social and not smoking, which decreases the blood flow to the brain, among other things.”
    The brain, according to Michelson, typically weighs between 2 and 4 pounds and demands 25 percent of the blood flow from every heart beat. The brain gets smaller, both in weight and size, as a person ages.
    “Some of the loss can be attributed to ill health,” Michelson said. “It’s easy to remember that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain.”
    Brain function is affected by a number of things such as educational background. Michelson asked the group if anyone is taking continuing education classes now that he has retired.
    Ann Dixon, a North Canton resident, said she has been taking piano lessons at Walsh University. She takes one lesson a week each semester and has been attending for more than a year.
    “Taking piano lessons was on my bucket list of things to do,” Dixon said. “I took lessons as a kid but then didn’t play for over 50 years.”
    Dixon said she is one of four senior citizens taking lessons with her at Walsh. She recently bought a piano and practices every day.
    “I’ve found that because of my age, I have more difficulty with hand and eye coordination, which slows me down on the piano,” Dixon said. “Taking the lessons has been really good for me and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
    Michelson said that most people experience a slowing of sensory register and memory decline. She quoted one study showing older students attending a college class with younger students could keep up when the lecturer went through the slide presentation at a slower speed. When the slides were advanced at a faster pace, the older students were not able to keep up.
    Self-perception of one’s memory loss can create a “downward spiral of actual memory loss and depression,” Michelson said. Dementia is a progressive deterioration of intellectual functions such as memory that can occur in many older adults.
    “Dementia involves severely impaired thinking and problem solving abilities and memory loss,” Michelson said. “Personality changes can also occur with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is one form of dementia that many older adults worry about.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Michelson emphasized the need for positive thinking and staying active. In doing so, she also pointed to President Ronald Reagan, author Laura Ingalls Wilder and painter Grandma Moses, all of whom became famous or more famous later in life.
    The Jackson Branch library offers programming and services for a variety of age groups and interests. For more information about the library and its services or any upcoming programming, call 330-833-1010 or visit www.starklibrary.org/jackson-township-branch.