Mental Stimulation

What is it you enjoy most? Dancing, skiing, spending time with your family, cooking new recipes?

Whatever it is, Professor Richard Faull, Director of the Auckland Centre for Brain Research, recommends that you get right into it, in order to keep your brain functioning at its best for as long as possible.

His opinion – backed up by his team’s 2007 research into Huntington’s Disease, which discovered brain cells aren’t necessarily lost with age – is just one of the four characters that Noelle McCarthy interviewed for this Radio New Zealand podcast about how the brain evolves as we age.


Other interviewees include CK Stead, New Zealand’s Poet Laureate who has noticed a little more difficulty comprehending complex writing, but is pleasantly surprised with his faculties and continuing to work at 83.

Daphne, a Centenarian who loves to sing, and her niece, Margaret who works in aged care spoke about the emotional toll of aging. Daphne recognises her thoughts changing and asks questions like, “am I losing my mind?” Confusion and feelings of going downhill are elements that Margaret says require lots of affirmation for older people – not only about who they are, but who they are becoming.

And Gaynor, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease in her 70’s. Since her diagnosis, she has made a life-changing move from Nelson to Auckland to be close other daughter and live in a care home. She tells stories of her journey, and laughs about it, with a pang of sadness and fear in her voice.

Professor Faull goes on to talk about his upcoming clinical research – one of a number of studies being conducted around New Zealand and Australia which focus on the very earliest stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, where memory lapses are still just a pesky inconvenience. If you would like to test where your memory is at, you could try our Memory Quiz to see if you might be eligible to be considered for a new early memory loss clinical trial based in Christchurch, Adelaide and Auckland.

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