American Society on Aging Launches MindAlert

Posted April 1, 2000 | Archived News | 1999-2004

The American Society on Aging (ASA) announced today plans to create a new resource on aging and mental fitness. MindAlert, funded by a $100,000 two-year grant from the Archstone Foundation, will disseminate information on current research and innovative programs that help older adults maintain and improve their cognitive and mental function in later years. 

MindAlert is based on the premise that the brain, like the rest of the body, can benefit from exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Through this program, and information distributed by ASA's professional members, hundreds of thousands of older adults will have access to the latest research on how to enhance mental and cognitive functions. 

"The greatest fear of most of us as we age is that we will lose our mental functions," noted Joseph F. Prevratil, President & CEO of Archstone Foundation. Prevratil continued, "The possibility that we can keep our minds alert well into our old age is an exciting prospect. Working with the American Society on Aging, the Archstone Foundation hopes to make this dream a reality for this and future generations of elders."

According to Gloria Cavanaugh, President and CEO of ASA, "Research has shown that the brain is able to grow new cells that can keep the mind alert and capable of storing and retrieving memory as it ages. Mental function can be significantly improved by appropriate training and practice, even among older adults already showing signs of memory loss. ASA is delighted to be able to partner with the Archstone Foundation to translate this research into practical tools." 

Archstone funds will be used to create an online resource center on mental fitness and aging. The resource center will offer articles on key issues, bibliographic listings and reviews of other materials, links to websites and information about mental fitness programs throughout North America. This clearinghouse will be useful to both consumers (older adults and family members) and professionals as they seek the latest information and work towards maintaining and improving cognitive capacity in the later years of life.

The grant will also support technical assistance and training for agencies that work with older adults and wish to develop their own mental fitness programs. Archstone funds will allow materials developed by ASA to be distributed to thousands of aging service and healthcare organizations in conjunction with another ASA project funded by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) entitled Health Promotion and Disease Prevention for Older Adults. Part of the MindAlert website will include downloadable program materials—curriculum guides, press releases, background material, and promotional materials—that organizations can use to set up a program. In addition, a discussion area will promote interaction between organizations involved in programs designed to improve older adults cognitive functioning, allowing for sharing of resources between programs.

The American Society on Aging is the largest professional organization in the field of aging with 7,000 members. ASA provides educational programming, publications and training resources to a wide variety of professionals - researchers, practitioners, educators, business people and policymakers - who work with older adults and their families.

The Archstone Foundation is a private grantmaking organization, whose mission is to contribute toward the preparation of society in meeting the needs of an aging population. Their resources are used to help all generations plan for the aging process and support programs addressing the needs of the elderly in three areas: a) healthy aging and independence; b) quality of life within institutional settings; c) end of life issues.