Staying sharp: brain health & AARP


By Mike Festa, AARP Massachusetts State Director

Mike Festa of AARP Massachusetts highlights AARP's tools for supporting brain health.
Mike Festa

A big concern for people as they grow older is staying mentally fit. We know this because our members tell us. According to an AARP survey, more than nine in ten (92%) U.S. adults 45 and over said that remaining mentally sharp is extremely or very important to them.

AARP offers research-based tools and information to help keep your mind active and healthy, so that you can live your best life yet.  

The AARP Brain Health Resource Center provides information to help you understand brain health and build awareness through research, reports and tips.

AARP Staying Sharp is an online program that shows you how to build habits that support your brain health — and have fun doing it! How you spend your day can have a big impact on brain health, research shows. AARP Staying Sharp has life hacks to help you eat well, move often, see friends, get good sleep, manage stress and keep learning.

June Is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. So, AARP Massachusetts is teaming up with the Alzheimer’s Association® for a special online series of education programs on brain health.

Although the risk of dementia rises a great deal after age 65, it is not an inevitable part of aging. Dementia is an umbrella term for conditions that impair a person’s ability to think, reason and remember to levels that interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common form, causing 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.  

The featured program in the series is a June 6th conversation with Dr. Andrew Budson, MD about normal aging and dementia. We will learn about the signs of dementia, and what to do if you’re worried about memory loss in yourself or a loved one. We will talk about risk factors for dementia, treatment options, and brain health. There will be time for questions from the audience. Dr. Budson is a neurologist and researcher at Veterans Affairs (VA) Boston Healthcare System and Boston University Alzheimer’s Research Center. 

In a separate webinar on June 11, we’ll talk about ways to prevent brain injuries throughout the continuum of life. This is especially important as we age. The senior population has the highest rates of traumatic brain injury. Doreen Grasso from the Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island will lead the conversation.

On June 18th, join us for a discussion with Kristen McGhee, a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist, about how to improve your sleep for better health.

Studies have shown that just 15 minutes of movement every day is more beneficial than 40-60 minutes a couple of times a week. In this session on June 25th, Jazmin Averbuck, MS, exercise specialist, will discuss taking the movement you are already doing and incorporating new techniques to maximize benefits and maintain good exercise habits. Jazmin will share light exercises that you can incorporate daily.

You don’t need to be a member to attend the webinar series, but you do need to register. You can find links to sign up and links to AARP brain health resources at