Aging & Caregiving in the News

Information, updates and interesting tidbits from across the country and around the world.

In this issue:

  • The benefits of ballet for older adults
  • Learn a second language and protect your brain
  • May Is Older Americans Month 2018

Put on Your Leotard and Lace Up Your Toe Shoes!

Queensland Ballet performer with older ballet students

Queensland Ballet's Artistic Director Li Cunxin leads a Ballet for Seniors class. (Photo courtesy of Ali Cameron, Queensland University of Technology)

Maybe you work out at the gym, or take an exercise class or tai chi … but it's not really your cup of tea. What about ballet? If you dreamed of performing in "Swan Lake" or "The Nutcracker" when you were a kid, it's good to know that ballet has been found to be an excellent form of exercise for older adults! Queensland University of Technology in Australia recently partnered with the Queensland Ballet to create a ballet program for seniors, and they found that not only did the participants experience higher energy levels and greater flexibility; they also reported an enhanced sense of self-esteem and social connection. Said study author Prof. Gene Moyle, "Some of the participants reported that they found the classes positively euphoric, and transformational in the pleasure they felt at being part of such weekly social engagement." Many senior centers, senior living communities and other organizations are offering ballet classes these days—so go ahead, embrace your inner Rudolph Nureyev!

More Evidence That Being Bilingual Protects the Brain

In 2013, the American Academy of Neurology noted that people who were raised speaking two or more languages experienced a delayed onset of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. Other research showed that it's never too late—even those who acquired a second language in adulthood preserved good brain function longer. Another study showed that bilingual stroke survivors recover their language faster. Most recently, researchers from Concordia University in Quebec used high-resolution brain imaging to show that the language, cognition and memory areas of the brain are thicker in bilingual people, even those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment. These people have greater cognitive reserves, which allows them to compensate for the lost brain connections. Experts say that learning a language is good brain exercise at any age! Take a language course and in no time you'll be speaking Español, Français, Mandarin, Arabic, Swahili … connecting more to the world even as you protect your brain connections.

"Engage at Every Age"—May Is Older Americans Month 2018

Older American Month poster

Since 1963, Older Americans Month has been a time to celebrate older Americans, their stories, and their contributions. Led by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the annual observance offers a special opportunity to learn about, support, and recognize our nation's older citizens. This year's theme, "Engage at Every Age," is meant to encourage older adults to remain active and involved in the community. It is also a call for our communities to promote services that support independence for seniors, wherever they call home; to involve older adults in planning and community events; and to provide opportunities for seniors to work, volunteer, lead and mentor. Says the ACL, "You are never too old (or too young) to participate in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotion well-being."

Source: Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA) in association with IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2017 IlluminAge. (Older Americans Month image courtesy of the U.S. Administration on Aging)