Anderson Conference - Educators Guide To the GeroSphere / Encore - R.Anunsen


SPEAKER 1: We're going overtime with the Educators
Guide to the GeroSphere.
We ran out of time when we had Jodi Windwalker and Earthtones doing
drum circles and exciting everybody here
on how to keep an educator's brain thriving
by doing something unusual like rhythm and music.
And part of what we're going to be doing
is filling in those two last gaps.
So if you're watching this, and you were here,
you'll remember we got through four of the six cog
wheels, cognitive wheels.
But I want to thank Jodi and what she
did by enlivening the entire group.
And some of the things that she does are
really inspirational to a lot of our gerontology students, the ones who
we're now calling geronauts.
And one of the things we see is that Jodi is passionate about what she
does to help older people successfully
get through the rest of their lives.
And so we've named her our first honorary geronaut
in the PCC's new school of geronautical engineering-- somebody
who is inspiring a lot of students, so thank you, Jodi.
The two areas that we haven't touched on are diet and nutrition.
We had a lot of people who understand that you have to eat.
And you have to keep your brain excited about life by what you do.
But there's no tonic.
And I explain to people that there's no magic pill.
There's no ideal brain tonic.
And if you look at this image of an ideal brain tonic,
it comes from over 100 years ago when
Coca-Cola marketed their product as being a brain tonic.
And that just doesn't exist.
If you're in your 20s, there may be a tonic or a pill sometime
in your lifetime.
But those of us in the field of gerontology
understand that it's a do-it-yourself.
And we're helping people to do it by helping
them get engaged in life again.
And nutrition is one of the hidden resource
in keeping an educator's brain alive.
There's two factors to keeping your brain and your abilities
to teach healthy.
And one is oxygen.
You don't think about that as fuel for the brain,
but it's the primary fuel.
If you go without food for a few days, you'll still be alive.
But if you go without oxygen for a few minutes,
you kill parts your brain.
So we explain that you just simply take a deep breath.
You exhale, inhale, take a deep breath,
hold it up to the count of four, let it out.
If you're teaching a class, and the class has been sitting for 10,
15 minutes listened to you, and you have
them stand up or have them take a deep breath, what
you do is reset their brain for the next session
and the next hard topic you're going to talk
about or the next thought that they've got.
Nutrition also decides oxygen, accounts
for the glucose for your brain.
Nutrition comes from your stomach pumped by blood.
And that's why exercise that we talked about earlier is incredibly
important for an educator to keep their brain healthy.
Because even though your brain is 3 pounds, 2% of an average body
weight, it consumes 20%-- and some speculate up
to 50% of the glucose and oxygen that you burn
is burned by your brain when you're really using that brain to think.
Antioxidants is one of the things we have, the takeaways for educators.
You have to have those every day.
It's a daily balance.
And in essence, it keeps your brain from rusting.
Because when the oxygen is burned, in a sense
it leaves a waste called free radicals.
And if you don't have those free radicals or radical oxygen--
if you don't have those countered by antioxidants during that day,
then it will have an effect over time on your brain.
Blueberries, bright colored fruits-- this is the world leader, the world
champion, and that's pound-for-pound, ounce-for-ounce.
Dried, pitted plums seem to be something
that really has a power-packed punch for antioxidants.
But this is a nice group of studies talking about the curcumin that's
in curry, the cinnamon and the cloves.
Those spices are being examined.
And if educators love their spices on their foods, that's probably
the next thing you can do is make sure you
keep your food in the range of the Indian food and the curry,
the types of spices that you have in those types of dishes.
The other half of the nutrition that comes from your food you eat is
the essential fats, omega 3's, omega 6's.
You have to have both of them.
But there's no fight for omega 6's.
It's the omega 3's that's the problem.
And it's the myelin that seems to break down
the insulation for your brain.
And so we always advocate people getting
weekly doses of fish and oils and nuts and avocados.
And flaxseed came on the scene a few years ago.
So if you like flaxseed on anything-- soups, yogurt,
cereals-- that's the type of thing you
do every day to become a thriving educator.
And chia-- a new player is the chia seeds
that seem to have similar omega 3 properties as the others
that we talked about, especially the flax.
So let's take a break on GeroSphere.
What we do is have people stand up.
And if they were still here and we had had time,
they would have sat down.
What you did by standing up and sitting down
would be to get a quick break for a student or for you.
And that's going to reset your brain and get
ready to do the next-- often, we'll intensely
yawn at a conference or a lecture.
And that yawn will then trigger a response from another species.
A dog would yawn, a contagious yawning.
But interestingly, cats do not have a contagious yawning factor
in their brain.
But we talk about sleep, naps, and rest as the last of the cog wheels.
Sleep, naps-- and you don't have to sleep to rest your brain.
But we're going to talk just very briefly about naps
as probably the most important.
But sleep can be summarized in this.
Your brain has a circadian clock, a rhythm,
that's the size of a pencil eraser.
It's right between your eyes and your frontal lobe.
And that is a circadian clock that is sensitive to light.
So when you let light in, and you are reading or looking
at the computer right before you went to bed,
your chances of falling asleep are minimized.
Because your brain thinks it's time to get up.
It's getting the light.
So use the light as an ally by lowering the lights in the rooms
or lowering the light on your monitor
and make sure that you know that it takes a while for your brain
to get rid of the light that it's got.
One of the other things we do is advocate night lights.
So if you get up and use the restroom,
and you know you have to get up early or you're on a schedule,
and you turn the lights on, and then you turn them off,
your brain is fooled into thinking, just because it is so sensitive
to light, that it's time to get up.
So get a night light.
Use those or squint when you have to get up.
This is the other takeaway.
And in this session that we did, we gave a number of takeaway messages.
And one of the messages was that you have to do little things.
And here's a little trick that we think is really going to help.
And that's when you look at the alarm clock
after getting up to use the restroom,
and you see what time it is, what does your brain do?
It has to see the numbers.
It calculates not only what time it is, but your brain-- if we had it
in the scanner, your brain would end up
having to calculate how many hours, so you're doing math in your brain,
do I have to sleep.
Then, you start thinking about, OK, now, do I have the alarm set,
and am I going to be able to get up with enough time,
and what do I have to do?
If you start doing that and going down a checklist,
and we had the right type of machine on your brain,
we could see your brain is really in gear.
No wonder you can't get back to sleep.
So here's the trick-- pretty easy-- turn the clock the other way.
Put something in front of it.
It will still go off to wake you up even if you can't see it.
But once your brain sees it, it starts thinking.
And our goal is to have you know how not to have it wake you up.
So that's the last takeaway of the day.
We advocate that people also take naps.
And the naps that you take are in the line of these famous thinkers.
People over history have taken naps as part
of their structure of their life to invent things,
to come up with new ideas, to take away things.
This is a famous napper in one of the Obama administration meetings.
And part of what we have are people who
are taking mindless naps because they
don't understand the power of a nap.
And the power of a nap doesn't have to be an hour,
doesn't have to be two hours.
It likely shouldn't be more than 90 minutes.
As long as you can get 20 to 23 minutes, not
this type but mindless nap, then what you're going to get
is a nap that is taking into consideration what you're
going to do to your brain-- mindful nap.
We talk about a mindful nap as one that you intentionally
turn off the lights, get in a cool circumstance
that you're laying down.
Set an alarm clock for 20 minutes, 23 minutes, 25 minutes.
That's the message from this book from a Harvard scientist.
And when she wrote this book, the title of it
is perfect-- Take a Nap!
Change Your Life.
It's the benefits at any age of taking a nap to restore your brain
and, as Winston Churchill said, get two days of work in one day.
That's what an educator needs.
If you're an early bird, get up early,
take your nap early in the afternoon.
If you're a night owl, take it late in the afternoon.
Those are the messages of the GeroSphere.
We always want to know what's on your mind.
And now, I'm going to introduce our geronaut commander.
Jan Abushakrah is going to say thank you
very much for this trip through the GeroSphere-- Jan.
JAN ABUSHAKRAH: Yes, we are so happy with the presentation
that we did this morning that we are back, as you can see,
doing the encore performance.
And I think our main message is, you can
take from this whatever it is that you can start integrating
into your life, to your family's life, and into your classroom,
and to treat your students and to create a really
lively GeroSphere right here at PCC.
SPEAKER 1: And this especially is important
because PCC is leading the way in teaching
to older students, students who are having
second and third careers coming back.
And we know that they learn differently
than they did when they were in college earlier
or in high school earlier.
And we are designing the courses to take that into their account.
Their brain is like a sponge that's different from what it was.
It pulls in information at a different rate.
It retains it differently.
And our model in the gerontology department
is one that we think is going to stand the test of time
and be used by all the educators who want to have their brains thrive
and have their students' brains thrive.
So we're adjusting our teaching to accommodate those older
students who are coming back to make a difference.
Thank you.
JAN ABUSHAKRAH: Great.