Imagine the benefits – for Lakewood Ranch residents – and our society at large, if…
There was a way to determine and monitor risk for brain disease at various points in our lives through a blood test or picture of our brains.
People could be taught how to engage in and sustain lifestyle behaviors that support their brain health and communities could be modified in order to make unhealthy behaviors difficult and healthy behaviors easy.
Behaviors that promote brain health was a community norm and people worked together to support each other toward brain healthy common goals.
We knew specifically when during the course of development such efforts would be most impactful for building brain health and preventing brain disease.
Our study aims to accomplish just that, which would have far reaching positive outcomes for individuals and multiple sectors. Although it is important to identify the dollars that could be saved by investing in brain health, it is equally if not more important to consider the value on investment of such a project. We have identified a number of financial and human gains that could come from investing in brain health and performance:
Medical. Brain health is inextricably linked to physical and mental wellbeing. Therefore, efforts to promote brain health can prevent and improve suffering from numerous health problems. Promoting brain health and performance means healthier communities and lower health care costs.
Education. All students deserve to be healthy and successful, and brain health can play a key role in helping students reach their full potential. Investing in brain health and performance can improve cognitive skills, academic performance, classroom behavior, and community engagement, while also decreasing drop-out rates, absenteeism, and school nurse visits.
Recreation. There is a well-established connection between exercise, recreation, and brain health and performance. Recreation has positive effects on physical health, as well as mood and cognitive functioning. Improved brain health, in turn, can increase participation in recreation, thereby creating a virtuous cycle.
Science and Innovation. Scientific evidence is increasingly identifying the importance of brain health to overall health and well-being across the lifespan. Long-term brain health studies are needed to identify factors linked to brain health at all ages, develop effective programs and interventions, and uncover the effects of positive brain health on health, wellness, and functioning. Our study will establish Lakewood Ranch as the hub of brain health and performance innovation.
Community Engagement. There is well-established evidence supporting the link between good brain health in individuals and increased safety and well-being of the community. Brain health can increase community engagement by promoting better connections between neighbors, greater participation in community activities, and enhanced interest in the quality of life of the community as a whole.
Workplace. Healthy employees are also better employees; they are more engaged, productive, and creative. Healthy employees not only contribute to the health of a company’s bottom line productivity, culture and savings, but also to the larger society.
Elite Performance. Brain processes play a key role in sports performance, and there is a well-established connection between positive brain health and elite performance. Elite performance is also a high-stress activity that needs to be met with good brain health. A focus on brain health could strengthen the abilities of the elite performance community.
Faith and Spirituality. There is considerable evidence linking brain health—including good mental health and cognitive functioning—to involvement in religious and spiritual communities. Given the powerful role that faith communities can play in individuals’ lives, religious and spiritual communities are also well-positioned to promote brain health.
Senior Care. Given an increasingly aging population, efforts to prevent expensive brain health-related disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, can significantly reduce public health costs. Investing in the most effective brain health and performance programs can also help make the delivery of senior care more efficient and effective.
Charitable Giving/Volunteerism. Philanthropic giving and other altruistic behaviors, such as volunteerism, can reduce stress, negative emotions, foster a sense of belonging, and decrease feelings of isolation. Gift-giving promotes empathy, helping people feel more connected to others, and putting their own issues into perspective. People who volunteer are less likely to be depressed. Gratitude for a healthy life encourages generosity. Promoting brain health can also promote continued philanthropy across the life course.
Brain health is essential for a long, happy, and productive life. Its impact is far-ranging, extending beyond our individual selves to our local, national, and global communities. A healthy brain seeks solutions and solves problems. It enables us to think, act, and make the world a better place. Our future depends on our optimal brain health.