New campaign promotes brain health

  • Deborah Condon

A new campaign which aims to provide practical tips on how to keep your brain healthy has been launched.

The Hello Brain campaign wants to raise awareness of the importance of active, healthy ageing. While people are living longer nowadays, for some, their extra years are badly affected by poor or failing mental functioning.

The campaign is designed to encourage people to be more proactive when it comes to the health of their brain health so that they can live independently for longer.

However, according to Prof Brian Lawlor of Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and a consultant psychiatrist in St James's Hospital, the Hello Brain campaign is not just aimed at older people.

"Even young adults in their mid-20s could benefit and should consider protecting their brains now for the future. Think of it like a pension fund. Healthy brain habits now build the brain's cognitive reserve for later on. It's a lodgement, and investment in your ‘brain bank' for later in life. You are never too old and never too young to protect your brain," he said.

The campaign, which is part of an EU Commission initiative to improve brain research, includes a website that promotes brain health and research. It is the public face of the ASAPS (A Sharing Approach to Promoting Science) project, which is being lead by a team from TCD.

This team works to translate detailed and complex scientific information into information that can be understood and used by everyone. The website brings together all the latest brain research and information on brain health and provides practical tips on how to keep your brain healthy.

It includes six short animated films that look at topics such as ‘will I lose my memory when I get old?' and ‘is exercise good for my brain?' There are also six video interviews with international scientists on topics such as retirement and the upsides of ageing.

The site is available in English, French and German, and a Hello Brain Health App can also be downloaded for free.

"We asked people across Europe what they feared most about growing old and they told us that they feared losing their memory and losing their independence. They also told us that dementia was the disease that they feared most," explained Dr Sabrina Brennan, co-ordinator of the ASAPS project.

However, she emphasised that research now suggests that modifiable lifestyle factors, such as exercise and social engagement, ‘can help to protect brain health and function'.

"We want to make the general public aware of this so that they can benefit from this scientific knowledge and be more proactive about their own brain health. Your brain is one of the most complex systems we know of in the universe, and as with all living things the environment affects how it works.

"For your brain, that environment is how you live, how physically active you are, how much you engage with other people, how you sleep and eat and whether you occupy your brain with tasks that can strengthen it," she said.

See the Hello Brain website here. See more also on Facebook and Twitter


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