Saturday 15 June 2019

Retirement group train their brains in six weeks

MITCHELSTOWN'S minds were put to the test on national television this week as a local active retirement group featured on an RTÉ health show.

The Ozanam Active Retirement Group in Mitchelstown were challenged to boost their brain health in just six weeks with the help of Prof. Sabina Brennan of the Institute of Neuroscience in Trinity College Dublin, as part of RTÉ's Doctors on Call programme.

As seen in the show, screened on Wednesday night, the group were asked to do one thing every day to boost their brain health.

"We all brush our teeth everyday but most of us never spare a thought for our brains," Prof. Brennan said. Having recently surveyed Europeans of all ages she discovered what they feared most about growing old.

"Guess what? It wasn't losing their teeth. No, it was losing their memory and their independence. Dentures never got a mention but dementia was cited as the disease that the majority of respondents feared most.

"And their fears aren't unfounded because decline in cognitive abilities like memory and attention prevent millions of older people from living independently in the community in later life," she explained.

With the Mitchelstown group, Professor Brennan aimed to boost positivity with brain health exercises and stressed that these activities help reduce brain illnesses and mental health issues and it turned out quite a success.

Margaret Sheehy was one of the 13 women to take part in the exercise. "We had to keep a diary and write down what we did, and we had to do something different every day, something we had never done before," Margaret explained.

"Some of us would go online, I went onto Facebook, or use a bank card for the first time," she added.

Margaret admited that while she initially found the exercises tough going, she came to really enjoy the challenge.

"I am actively retired and I have a big interest in the local group, I like doing different things at different times. Right now I am reading the books of Canon Sheehan. They might be old fashioned but there's more than a grain of sense in them," she said.

The most telling aspect of the exercise was a survey the group were asked to take before and after the six week experiment. "We had improved over the six weeks, it really worked," reported Margaret.

Episode 5 of Doctors on Call will be on Wednesday December 11 on RTE1 at 8.30 p.m.