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Extension program promotes brain health in older adults

URBANA, Ill. – Our brains control important executive functions, such as speaking, thinking, learning, making sound decisions, and remembering. In addition to physical exercise, getting at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep and eating a heart-healthy diet improves brain fitness for maintaining long-term cognitive health in older adults.

Drawing on brain health and aging research, Molly Hofer and Chelsey ByersUniversity of Illinois Extension family life educators, developed Wits Workout, a 24-session curriculum guidebook designed for professionals or lay leaders to facilitate brain exercise classes.

“Just like muscles, our brains need exercise to maintain flexibility and strength,” says Byers. “Challenging ourselves with new and diverse activities promotes cognitive health and can help maintain brain function as we age.”

Through interactive dialog and experiential activities, Wits Workout serves as a tool that professionals, community centers, churches, and families can use to help older adults maintain or adopt behaviors that promote long-term brain health.

The 24-session interactive program is available in both print and digital formats, and each activity-based unit leads facilitators through educational materials and intellectual activities that promote cognitive engagement. Activities can be performed as part of a group or individually, and facilitators may offer sessions as a series or as standalone units. Each session can be completed in 60 to 90 minutes.

A $60 program training package is available for a limited time. Registrants will receive two hours of research-based program training and will be mailed the printed curriculum upon successful completion of training. Additional options include adding CEUs for $20 or purchasing a curriculum package separately without training.

Learn more and register at by Jan. 18 ,2021 and choose from one of two online training dates: Jan. 22, 2021 or Jan. 29, 2021 from 10 a.m. to noon. Anyone interested in the materials or facilitating the program may register. No previous training is required.

If you have questions or need reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Family Life Educator and program organizer Chelsey Byers at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting access needs.

SOURCE: Chelsey Byers, Family Life Educator, University of Illinois Extension
WRITER: Liz Smith, Media Communications Coordinator, University of Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.

*Original dates shared in this release included registration deadline Dec. 2, 2020 and training event Dec. 11, 2020. Those dates have been updated to accommodate additional participants.