April 23, 2013
The last time 93-year-old Louise Vincent graduated was in 1937. That was when she said goodbye to Ravena High School in New York state, with 20 other students.
But on a recent Friday, Vincent and a very different group of 20 people—residents of Chancellor’s Village—received diplomas from the retirement community’s Brain Health University.
Brain Health University is a two-month program designed to help improve seniors’ cognitive function.
Krista Wells, resident program director for Chancellor’s Village, said that exercising the mind slows the onset of dementia while simply improving mental acuity.
She said the courses also offer residents an opportunity to socialize.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
The program that started in February was the community’s third Brain Health University offering.
In the program, residents solve puzzles, take classes on nutrition, sleep and stress, and perform physical tasks that require coordination.
Before each Brain Health University session, a class catalog goes out, inviting residents to register for classes—much like they would for college.
“It’s like going to a real university,” said Wells.
One assignment during the most recent session was to create a list titled “Things I won’t do now that I’m over 70.”
Vincent had one: She said she’s not going to work again.
Another resident, 88-year-old George Nixon, said he will decline to become a father again.
He said he’ll also clean up his jokes.
Marsha Carol, 70, completed the program twice.
“It’s something I look forward to,” she said, adding that she likes working toward something.
For coordination, they play a game called “air attack,” which Wells described as a cross between bowling and dodge ball.
While seated, residents use dodge balls to knock down pins on the other team’s side of the activity room. Balls can be blocked with feet and rolled back.
They also play “battleball” with dodge balls, using the balls to push a larger beach ball to the opposing team’s side of the room.
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