East Lansing seniors program teaches eating for better thinking

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The Hannah Community Center holds programs for all ages. One area this community center focuses on is its senior citizens in a program called “Prime Time.” The nationally accredited Prime Time program allows people 55 and older to participate in programs that engage them emotionally, physically and intellectually. On Friday, Feb. 17, there will be a “Smart Eating for Smart Thinking” program, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the community center, led by Emily Ostrowski, a nutritionist at Sparrow Hospital.

“I’m a registered dietitian, clinical registered dietitian. I focus a lot on pediatrics in inpatient and I do community outreach such as these talks,” said Ostrowski.

Ostrowski finds it important to educate people on their diet because what you put into your body has an effect on you. “Smart Eating for Smart Thinking” allows her to teach senior citizens what is best for their mind and bodies through the foods that they eat.

“Eating for optimal brain health is a really up-and-coming topic of interest for people who want to take care of their bodies and their minds at the same time. It has just been shown to keep your brain sharp even with age, and all of my nutrition recommendations are good for help for reducing inflammation of the body and focusing on a balance of nutrients,” she said.
Her plan is to teach Prime Time members about the best fats, minerals and vitamins to consume to reduce the risk of diseases.

“It’s just a nutrition talk to optimize brain function, talk about some vitamins and minerals that will help with the brain aging and help potentially reduce dementia and Alzheimer’s. I go into other micronutrients and the MIND diet and Mediterranean diet,” she continues.

This is all part of a Fit for Life series that Prime Time does every year. This program encourages senior citizens to get active with their bodies and minds. It also teaches them how to treat their bodies as they age.

“It consists of exercise programs and it gives people an opportunity to get interested in tryouts and fitness classes, and we offer brain exercises each week. So one of these workshops, which is what this is, usually we have someone on nutrition. We’re having someone from Sparrow come and talk about smart eating for smart thinking,” said Carolyn Haines, group recreational coordinator.
Haines finds it important to educate members of Prime Time as well. She tries to get members to come to the reality that they’re aging, but that it shouldn’t stop them from being able to maintain good health. It just means that they have to rethink how they exercise and eat.

“We try to keep people as active as we can, and it’s very important as we age to keep what we have. ‘Use it or lose it’ is very true as we age, and a lot of people don’t realize it. We start aging and the more we can keep our bodies strong and keep being able to balance things and do a lot of weights, weight-bearing exercises are all important, and the other aspect of life that we talk about in the wellness workshops feed into that too. We want to be well-rounded,” Haines said.

Jean Rooney is 73 and an active member of the Fit for Life program and a Prime Time member. She attends two of the fitness classes, one brain game activity, and one talk, per week.

“Well, I’m a divorced woman, I’m single, I live alone, I don’t have a lot of relatives here, I do have good friends. I just think it’s important to take care of yourself and life is a lot more fun if you’re healthy. So I like to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can,” said Rooney.

Prime Time typically gets between 20 to 40 members at an event, but the numbers can change based on walk-ins. The events are open to all of East Lansing.

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