Shiva Schulz, Adult Programs Manager at the JCCSF, couldn’t stop smiling. It was Thursday, April 30, and the building was humming with hundreds of people here for the 8th Annual Art of Aging Gracefully Resource Fair. She looked somewhere between proud parent, air traffic controller and a chef who’s just pulled together a complicated ten-course meal.
The event featured more than 60 businesses and organizations presenting invaluable information to support active, creative aging. Also on offer were lectures by well-known doctors and scientists from UCSF. Topics ranged from “What You Can Do for Your Joints” to “Harnessing Plasticity of the Older Brain to Enhance Cognition.” All activities and lectures were free to the public.
“This is the best fair yet,” Schulz beamed. “So much energy. So much positivity!”
That would be high praise for any event, but for one focused on getting older it was especially noteworthy. “Typically our youth-obsessed culture wants nothing to do with aging,” says Schulz. “Yet when you think about it, the term ‘aging’ is relative.”
In Kanbar Hall, Dr. Adam Gazzaley was making a similar point. Gazzaley’s “Harnessing Plasticity” talk featured his work developing video games to improve cognitive function. Gazzaley showed a chart of cognitive capacity over a person’s lifetime. Instead of confirming the commonly held belief that there’s a sharp drop-off after age 75 or 80, the graph showed that cognitive function peaks in the mid-twenties and very gradually declines from that point on.
The good news is that we can all take action to improve brain function. “Brain Boot Camp,” another well-attended session, gave practical tips for keeping your mind in top form. Other talks emphasized the importance of social connection and of learning new things.
Though the brain received its due, the body was by no means ignored in this event dedicated to healthy aging. Talks and workshops on hearing, posture, balance and how to avoid stroke drew healthy crowds, as did opportunities to practice Gentle Yoga, Chair Pilates and Makor Or Meditation.
Schulz took time out during her busy day to praise UCSF Medical Center, the JCCSF’s partner in the event. Beyond the organizations involved, there is a core of dedicated volunteers that make the event possible, not to mention the 500-plus participants who filled the JCCSF with their energy and passion, seeking strategies to move through life’s stages in a positive and proactive way.
Watch the Art of Aging Gracefully talks on video.