Good news: Nearly everybody agrees that brains areimportant.


A recent survey by AARP finds that 98 percent of those over 40believe that maintaining or improving brain health is somewhat orvery important. The other 2 percent presumably believe that healthybrains are for nerds.


The bad news is that a large portion of those surveyed are notdoing what is necessary to preserve or enhance their brains. Whatshould they be doing? Exercising, eating healthy, reading, andsocializing with friends and family.


It’s not that people are unaware of how to stay sharp. Over 95percent of respondents identified all of the above activities asimportant to maintaining a healthy brain. But just like any otherarea of health, knowing what’s good for you and doing what’s goodfor you are two very different things.


Among the survey findings:

  • Only 64 percent regularly read.

  • Only 59 percent get enough sleep.

  • Only 56 percent regularly exercise.

  • Only 56 percent report a healthy diet.

  • Only 43 percent believe they are doing enough to managestress.

The AARP report also voiced concerns about a major misconceptionexpressed by three-quarters of survey respondents: That vitaminsand supplements improve cognitive health. In April, a studyco-sponsored by AARP and conducted by the Institute of Medicinefound no evidence that that was the case.


“This new survey is showing that there are big gaps between whatpeople think is important for their brains and what they areactually doing to maintain their brain health,” said Sarah LenzLock, AARP senior vice president of policy, research andinternational affairs.


In the April report, a number of medications were also found tobe linked to cognitive decline. Although the correlations weren’toverwhelming, the study warned seniors to watch their consumptionof strong anticholinergic drugs, such as Benadryl, as well asbenzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium.


Many told the pollsters that they have noticed their own braindecline. Nearly 40 percent reported that they are having moretrouble remembering things than before. Indeed, only 61 percentrated their brain health as excellent or very good, which isnevertheless much higher than the 43 percent who assessed theiroverall physical health as very good or excellent.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.