Storytelling Event Promotes Brain Health

On a recent Saturday, storytellers engaged in a friendly competition as they shared their wisdom with an attentive audience of friends, family, and community members. The six contestants recently completed a storytelling workshop for older adults and practiced their skills from the stage of the Center on Halsted’s Hoover-Leppen Theater. They spoke of adventure, hardship, service, and everyday life. Most stories included a lesson or important connection to a loved one, such as rediscovering the language of a grandmother or a daughter’s advice to always bring your passport.  The winner of the competition, Omiyale Dupart, shared her mother’s wisdom that “if a woman tells you her age, she’ll tell you anything”. Dupart is a member of the Association of Black Storytellers and won a gift certificate for Humor Doesn’t Retire an improv class for seniors at Chicago’s Second City.

Many older adults fear memory loss, but according to an AARP survey only half of those over age 40 are actively taking steps to improve their brain health.

Storytelling can help older adults stay sharp.

Laugh Lines participants

Left to right:  Master Storyteller Olga Loya and Laugh Lines participants Nancy Snider, Joan Strickland, Omiyale DuPart, Emerita Nieves, Jude Mathews, and Mary Kwasny

Storytelling engages the brain, fosters connection with loved ones, and for some, involves learning new skills. After each Laugh Lines’ storyteller left the stage, emcee Ryan Baker of CBS 2, shared tips for staying sharp.

  • Get moving.
  • Eat a low fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Know your blood pressure.
  • Enjoy alcohol in moderation, if at all.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Pick up a new skill.
  • Stay connected.
  • Talk with your doctor.

Laugh Lines storytelling event series is sponsored by What is Brain Health?, a national campaign launched by Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living in 2015. The campaign helps raise awareness about brain health while empowering older adults to make the most of their brains as they age. The event combines entertainment and education, using storytelling to teach older adults how they can help keep their brains healthy. Visit www.brainhealth.gov to learn more.

The Illinois PRC promotes brain health through its collaboration in the Healthy Brain Research Network. Our center’s collaboration is directed by David Marquez.