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Sharpen your mind at the Susi Q: Keeping a healthy mind in a healthy body as we age

Have you at some point walked into a room and forgotten the reason you went there? Or berated yourself for yet again losing glasses or keys? 

Or, mortifyingly, even forgotten for a moment the name of a close friend?

Well, if you’re a Boomer or beyond, join the club! But while the loss of some mental acuity is normal when aging, there are plenty of fun ways to sharpen your mind.

Ben Allen, programs and educational specialist at Alzheimer’s Orange County, will be at the Susi Q on Monday, April 24 between 2 and 3 p.m. to suggest great strategies to practice improving your memory and maximize brain health. “Sharpen Your Mind: Memory Tips and Teasers” is a fun and interactive session offered in-person or online at no cost to participants.

sharpen your group

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Photo by Jo Ann Ekblad

Playing mahjongg has been found effective in improving short-term memory, attention and logical thinking in both middle-aged and elderly people

“We’re delighted to welcome Ben back to the Susi Q,” said Jo Ann Ekblad, program and marketing director at Laguna Beach Seniors. “His virtual sessions were enormously popular during the pandemic. Participants leave with renewed confidence in their memories and conversational skills.”

Susi Q caught up with Allen to ask him a few questions on the topic.

SQ: What do you believe is the single most important thing to keep your mind sharp as you age?

BA: The research on this is pretty clear: Be active! When we are active physically, mentally and socially we lower our risk of cognitive decline. That means we need to get out and move; get regular moderate-to-vigorous exercise.  Eat well – the Mediterranean diet is an excellent guide. Challenge your mind, read, do puzzles, learn mahjongg or a new language. And finally, connect with other people; they keep us sharp.

sharpen your ben

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Ben Allen, ALZOC, leads the Sharpen Your Mind session at the Susi Q

SQ: Why is it that long-term memories are easier to recall than short-term events?

BA: The short answer is that short-term and long-term memories use different parts of the brain. Long-term memories are easier to recall because we’ve accessed them many times. That repetition reinforces the connections in the brain and makes recall easier. With short-term memory, we’re working with new information. We don’t have strong connections until we review and rehearse those new memories. And here’s the key to short-term memory: pay attention! We really emphasize paying attention in this workshop.

SQ: What interested you in this field?

BA: I got involved with Alzheimer’s Orange County when my wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 14 years ago. I learned a lot from being a caregiver and from all the programs and services at ALZOC. 

Allen is a programs and education specialist at Alzheimer’s Orange County and the coordinator of the art program, Memories in the Making®. He has been a community educator for more than 12 years speaking to groups throughout Orange County on Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. 

Allen retired from AT&T where he had a 33-year career as a project manager, training developer, instructor and data analyst. 

Register online at and click on Classes & Registration. To RSVP by phone, call 949.715.8105, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Susi Q offers a wide range of educational and fun programs, classes and clubs for older adults – though all ages are welcome. The Susi Q’s Care Management Department provides free consultation, education and practical resources for vulnerable seniors, enabling them to stay safe, informed and independent. For more information on The Susi Q, the portal to access the best of Laguna’s community resources, visit

Susi Q is located at 380 Third St., Laguna Beach.


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