This guest post was contributed by Dr Alan J. Gow, Associate Professor in Psychology at the School of Social Sciences, Heriot-Watt University
What keeps you sharp?
That’s an important question for many of us, especially as we get older. It was also the name of a nationwide survey exploring what people expect to happen to their thinking skills as they get older, and the first results from this have just been released.
Over 3000 people across the UK responded to the survey, aged from 40 to 98 years old, and we’ve published these findings in a new report, ‘What Keeps You Sharp?’. Aimed at the public, older peoples’ groups, charities and health professionals, our intention is to help everyone think about their brain health in the same way we’ve become more knowledgeable over recent generations about managing our heart health or lowering our risk of certain cancers.
This guest blog was contributed by Dr Grania Fenton, Research Fellow at the University of Leeds.
As more of us are living longer, more of us are living with the effects of cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes. This does not mean that cardiovascular events are inevitable though. In fact, they are usually preventable, as 80% of factors contributing to them are lifestyle related, i.e. caused by things such as an unhealthy diet and a lack of physical activity.
Active lifestyle schemes, like the one at the Hamara Community Centre in Leeds, aim to help people change their lifestyles by providing group activity and education sessions to help them become more active and eat more healthily, and so reduce their risk of a cardiovascular event.
We wanted to find out what older adults referred to the scheme thought about the scheme and the things that helped them to lead healthy lifestyles or got in the way, as well as ageing and health in general. We spoke to 8 women and 5 men between the ages of 64 and 82 (average age 69).