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Online Workshops Show Ways to a Healthier Brain

AARP Brain Health Study

Do you sometimes think you’re losing your mind? If so, you’re not alone. Many older adults worry about memory loss, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated those concerns. 

Pandemic-related isolation has damaged the mental well-being of thousands of older Americans, said Sarah Lenz Lock, AARP senior vice president for policy and executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health, an independent group of experts on the aging brain, convened by AARP. 

Researchers have also discovered that the coronavirus can directly affect the brain, causing confusion and other problems that may last for months or years after the infection. 

“COVID has had a devastating impact on brain health,” Lock said. “The science is just starting. We are finding long-term effects on mental and brain health.”

Fortunately, dementia is not an inevitable part of the aging process. There are evidence-based steps you can take to mitigate your risk.  

AARP North Carolina is planning a series of six free online  workshops on brain health, from 2 to 3 p.m. every Thursday, from June 3 to July 8. They will be recorded and available for later viewing at

The first 50 people who register and participate in five of the six sessions will receive a complimentary copy of Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age, a new AARP-supported book by neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

Pillars of Brain Health

Each online workshop will cover ways to strengthen your brain.

Be social (June 3): Social isolation is associated with about a 50 percent increased risk of dementia. Yet it can be difficult for those who live alone or have mobility issues to find ways to connect with others. 

Engage your brain (June 10): It’s important “to continually challenge your brain,” Lock said, whether it’s by learning a language or taking up a new skill.

Manage stress (June 17): AARP research shows that 96 percent of adults over age 40 think that managing stress well is important for maintaining brain health, but only 43 percent are able to manage stress effectively. 

Stay active (June 24): Research indicates that physical activity can significantly reduce your risk of dementia. Even small amounts add up. 

Get rest (July 1): Sleep is vital to brain health, yet older adults often have trouble sleeping. The council recommends seven to eight hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. 

Eat right (July 8): A 2018 AARP survey found that adults age 40 and older who say they eat a healthy diet are twice as likely as those who don’t to rate their mental sharpness as “excellent” or “very good.” 

In the workshops, experts will share practical tips on how to incorporate these “pillars of brain health” into daily life. 

AARP North Carolina’s Suzanne LaFollette-Black knows firsthand how even small steps can make a difference. 

Her husband, who has dementia, participated in the IMOVE clinical trial at Wake Forest University that is studying how dance and movement can help with memory. “He was so much better after those sessions. I felt like I had him back.”

Register for the brain-health workshops and other AARP North Carolina events at

Michelle Crouch is a writer living in Charlotte

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