Brainiacs 

Use it or lose it.

The saying rings especially true for the brain. Now, a workshop led by the Alzheimer's Association will instruct people how to use it to prevent memory loss.

"Once we get into habits, we don't stimulate different parts of our brains. It's important to do things outside of your comfort zone," says Sheryl Ludeke-Smith, the association's regional director. "The key is to stimulate the whole brain so that if you do have a stroke or get dementia, you can use other parts of your brain."

The July 10th workshop will reinforce the significance of whole-brain stimulation by providing information and introducing interactive exercises. Among those exercises are working a Sudoku puzzle and a challenge in which participants must remembering color names that are written in different colors.

"We'll also be talking about the Nun Study," Ludeke-Smith says. The ongoing study began in 1986, using nuns to identify risk factors for Alzheimer's. In part, thanks to the study, doctors now know that eating well, exercising regularly, not smoking, and interacting socially can all strengthen brain synapses.

But an especially beneficial activity might come as a surprise: ballroom dancing. As Ludeke-Smith explains, "You're learning and being social, and it's physical activity."

Though aimed at baby boomers, the workshop welcomes all ages. "You're never too young or too old to start protecting your brain for the rest of your life," Ludeke-Smith says. "Very small changes over the course of your lifetime can make a big difference. Your memory is who you are."

"Maintain Your Brain" workshop, Alzheimer's Association, Tuesday, July 10th, 6:30 p.m. the village at Germantown, 7820 Walking horse circle. Free but limited registration. Call 565-0011 or e-mail lisa.bobal@alz.org for required pre-registration.

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