University of Arizona to Host Conference on Promoting Successful Aging and Brain Health

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 7:30am to 6:30pm
In an effort to flip perceptions about aging from fear to empowerment, the University of Arizona is pioneering the Annual Conference on Successful Aging, a cross-disciplinary, public conference on brain health featuring world-renowned speakers and the latest information on the science of successful aging.
 
The conference will be the first in an annual series and is open to the community. The event was spearheaded by the UA Department of Psychology and is co-sponsored by the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, UA’s BIO5 Institute and the College of Science. It will be held at the UA Student Union Memorial Center, North and South Ballrooms, on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and will give participants practical ways to incorporate the science of successful aging into their daily lives.
 
The event is the brainchild of two UA researchers, Gene Alexander, PhD, professor of psychology, and Lee Ryan, PhD, associate professor of psychology and neurology, who are co-directors of the annual conference. These researchers use state-of-the-art neuroimaging methods to understand the normally aging brain, the changes that lead to age-related memory problems and ways to prevent or treat age-related memory impairments.
 
“This event will bring together speakers with research expertise from across the UA campus who are working to understand why some individuals are able to maintain their cognitive functions throughout their lifetime while others experience significant memory and other cognitive impairments that interfere with the quality of daily life,” Dr. Alexander said.
 
By understanding the age-related brain and behavioral changes associated with aging, it will be possible to develop research directions that will lead to practical recommendations for pharmacological and lifestyle interventions for maintenance of cognitive health throughout life.
 
“The perception of aging is that you get old, you get senile and your brain deteriorates,” said Carol Barnes, PhD, Regents Professor of psychology and director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute. “In fact, studies have shown that the brain is constantly changing and adapting to solve problems as we age.”
 
The theme for this year’s conference, “Good For The Heart, Good For The Brain: Enhancing Cognitive Function As We Age,” focuses on growing evidence that many factors that result in poor cardiovascular health also have a significant impact on brain function. Some of these factors can be influenced through lifestyle choices.
 
 Dr. Ryan added, “We want to find ways to help the community sift through the huge amount of information available now on the web and in the popular press regarding aging and memory. Much of that information has no scientific basis. However, there is important new research that can guide us to make better lifestyle choices in our daily lives to maintain optimal heart health – and optimal cognitive functioning – as we age.”
 
Conference topics will include the benefits of physical exercise, controlling hypertension, diet and supplements, decreasing stress and strategies that can improve memory and cognitive function. The positive aspects of aging often overlooked in our society, including the importance of wisdom and emotional balance, also will be discussed.
 
“Our goal is to provide practical and useful information on ways to promote successful aging to the community, as well as health-care workers who are concerned about healthy brain aging,” said Dr. Alexander.
 
Presenters include: Alfred Kaszniak, PhD; Elizabeth Glisky, PhD; Lee Ryan, PhD; Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, CSO; Gene Alexander, PhD; Carol Barnes, PhD; Mary-Frances O’Connor, PhD; and David Raichlen, PhD.
 
Who should attend? All members of the community, of any age, who are interested in learning about successful aging, as well as health-care workers who interact with older adults.
 
Registration for the conference is $75 ($150 for health-care professionals requesting CE credits) and will include continental breakfast, lunch and a wine reception where participants will have opportunities to meet and interact with the speakers.
 
Additional event sponsors include: Tucson Medical Center, Miraval Resort, the Pima Council on Aging, La Posada and Alphagraphics. Community partners include Imagine Greater Tucson and Better than Ever. Community Advisory Board co-chairs are Joan Kaye-Cauthorn and Robin Harris.
 
To register for the event, or for more information, please visit www.psychology.arizona.edu/ACoSA or contact Cortney Jessup at 520-621-5213.