Youngest Baby Boomers Turn 50 in 2014

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They never thought it would happen to them — but the youngest baby boomers will turn 50 this year, and with an unprecedented life expectancy of 78.7 years, they are the newest of their generation to come to grips with the need to maintain healthy brains as they age. Now, as emerging research indicates that simple lifestyle changes can influence brain health and cognition throughout life, the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) and life'sDHA are partnering on the third installment of a national health education campaign, Beautiful Minds: Finding Your Lifelong Potential

The Beautiful Minds campaign is designed to empower Americans to develop and maintain healthy, active minds by incorporating lifestyle factors known as the four dimensions of brain health — diet and nutrition, physical health, mental health and social well-being. A key component of the campaign is the 2014 America's Brain Health Index, a state-by-state ranking of brain health that delivers data on how well Americans are incorporating the four dimensions into their daily lives and reveals the states where more action is needed.

America's Top Ten Brain Healthy States 
The America's Brain Health Index evaluated the 50 US states and the District of Columbia based on 21 factors including diet and nutrition, physical health, mental health and social well-being. According to this year's America's Brain Health Index, the top 10 brain healthiest geographies are:

 

1) Maryland                    

 6) District of Columbia

2) Washington state      

 7) Vermont

3) Colorado                    

 8) New York

4) Connecticut                

 9) New Hampshire

5) Alaska                       

10) Georgia

Michael Roizen, MD, co-founder of Real Age, Inc., helped to determine the key indicators of brain health and build the Index with data aggregated from highly credible secondary resources. The categories ranged from consumption of DHA-rich foods, amount of sleep and community involvement, to smoking rates, Alzheimer's disease prevalence and state education rankings.

"Keeping the brain healthy is easier than you realize. Everyday actions such as maintaining a diet including good fats like DHA omega-3 and important nutrients such as vitamin E and lutein, and staying active physically, mentally and socially, are all good ways to influence long-term brain health," said Dr. Roizen.

Celebrating Beautiful Minds
The campaign also introduces America's most Beautiful Minds, individuals fulfilling the four dimensions and achieving amazing things well into the second half of life. Through a national call for entries, adults 55 and over were invited to submit an essay describing how they embody the four dimensions of brain health. Nine individuals, ranging in age from 58 to 90, were chosen as the 2014 Beautiful Minds. Their inspiring stories include an 81-year-old who bikes nine miles to work, an 84-year-old champion swimmer and a 90-year-old singer of Chinese opera.  

Three of the Beautiful Minds are from top-ranking geographies:

>>Cheryl Vassiliadis, 60, Hoschton, Ga.

>>Judith Mares Lazar, 65, Washington, D.C.

>>Leecynth "Lee" Hunkins, 84, New York, N.Y.

 

Other winners include:

>>Renee McClendon, 58, Diamondhead, Miss.

>>Bruce Mondschain, 71, Deerfield, Ill.

>>C.K. Perez, 81, Chicago, Ill.

>>Peter Phildius, 84, Wellesley, Mass.,

>>Carol Siegel, 75, Alexandria, Va.

Pei Chang "Patty" Wang, 90, San Jose, Calif.

"The 'graying of America' is being heralded by many as the second American Revolution, promising dramatic changes in the field of aging. The life'sDHA Beautiful Minds campaign demonstrates that Americans who incorporate the four dimensions of brain health into daily activities can enjoy lives filled with purpose and passion, strength and achievement," said Gay Hanna, Ph.D., M.F.A., executive director of the NCCA.

Did you know? A Sampling of Brain Health Research 

DHA omega-3 – Recent research shows the importance diet and the omega-3 DHA have in maintaining brain health, including brain volume, which naturally shrinks as we age. A study published in Neurology found people with higher levels of DHA and EPA may have larger brain volumes in old age equivalent to preserving one to two years of brain health.

Vitamin E – Just over 90 percent of Americans don't get enough vitamin E from food. Recent studies have found that lower levels of vitamin E in the blood may be associated with the increased prevalence of mild cognitive impairment and vitamin E may positively impact functional performance among participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

Lutein – New research on lutein, typically known for its benefits to eye health, has found a correlation between macular pigment density and general cognitive function in healthy elderly people. A large number of Americans are not achieving adequate levels of lutein in their everyday diets and fewer than half – 41 percent – are familiar with lutein, according to the DSM Nutritional Products' Eye Health Survey.

Learn more
Americans of all ages who want to join this growing brain-healthy community and find out where their state ranks in America's Brain Health Index, meet all of this year's Beautiful Minds, and learn about simple steps they can take to improve brain health are invited to visit the campaign's online information resource, beautiful-minds.com.