©Photo UT Dallas
By Jackie Augustine – July 29, 2014
Learning digtial photography is an excellent way to keep your brain sharp. The process of learning how a new digital camera works involves time, patience and enthusiasm. We are very excited to be beginning a new program next week with The Education Alliance Sirovich Center for older adults. Our volunteer photographers will start by introducing the basic steps of using a digital camera. In subsequent weeks, the “senior students” will be given a variety of projects to perfect their skills and enjoy the amazing results! Yesterday I read an article by Lauren Silverman of NPR about the amazing power of photography to prevent brain loss in seniors. I wanted to share with you some of the findings from that article.
by Lauren Silverman – NPR.org
Brain training is big business, with computerized brain games touted as a way to help prevent memory loss. But new research shows you might be better off picking up a challenging new hobby.
To test this theory, Dr. Denise Park, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Dallas, randomly assigned 200 older people to different activities. Some learned digital photography. Another group took up quilting.
The greatest improvement was for the people who learned digital photography and Photoshop — perhaps, Park says, because it was the most difficult.
Jimmy Wilson, 82, agreed to learn to use a computer, a camera and Photoshop for the trial. “That was really quite a challenge for me when I got into the photo class,” Wilson says, “because it involved a computer and I had never even touched a computer.”
Wilson is motivated to fight dementia, in part because he saw what the disease did to his wife toward the end of her life.
“When my wife died,” he says, “it would have been real easy to just become a total recluse.” Instead, Wilson embraced being socially and mentally active. He’s a member of the choir at his church, and when he’s not reading current events and books on his Kindle, he gets together with family for Mexican food.
Since Wilson participated in the trial, he says, he has noticed improvement in his memory, although he says it still isn’t perfect. He admits it can be frustrating learning to use new technology, but he knows it’s good for his brain.
So how does learning a new skill help ward off dementia? By strengthening the connections between parts of your brain, says cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman. While brain games improve a limited aspect of short-term memory, Kaufman says, challenging activities strengthen entire networks in the brain.
“It really is strengthening the connectivity between these team players of these large-scale brain networks,” he says.
About The Educational Alliance
The Educational Alliance is a community-based non-profit organization that provides services to 50,000 New Yorkers annually through dozens of programs at 16 locations in lower Manhattan. We are a Jewish-founded organization, serving people of diverse ethnic, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds. Since its founding in 1889, the Educational Alliance has helped more than 4,000,000 New Yorkers build better lives through education, arts, recreation, and social services.Our Program
About the Sirovich Center
Older adults from the five boroughs travel to Sirovich for the its warm atmosphere and vibrant community. In addition to the variety of programs and events, Sirovich also provides a hot lunch five days per week. At Sirovich, everyone is part of a big family. There’s always someone to turn to for a shoulder to lean on or a smile to brighten the day!