Interactive program promotes brain health in older adults

University of Illinois Extension

Our brains control important executive functions, such as speaking, thinking, learning, making sound decisions, and remembering. In addition to physical exercise, getting at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep and eating a heart-healthy diet improves brain fitness for maintaining long-term cognitive health in older adults.

Drawing on brain health and aging research, Molly Hofer and Chelsey Byers, University of Illinois Extension family life educators, developed Wits Workout, a 24-session curriculum guidebook designed for professionals or lay leaders to facilitate brain exercise classes.

“Just like muscles, our brains need exercise to maintain flexibility and strength,” says Byers. “Challenging ourselves with new and diverse activities promotes cognitive health and can help maintain brain function as we age.”

Through interactive dialog and experiential activities, Wits Workout serves as a tool that professionals, community centers, churches, and families can use to help older adults maintain or adopt behaviors that promote long-term brain health.

The 24-session interactive program is available in both print and digital formats, and each activity-based unit leads facilitators through educational materials and intellectual activities that promote cognitive engagement. Activities can be performed as part of a group or individually, and facilitators may offer sessions as a series or as standalone units. Each session can be completed in 60 to 90 minutes.

With a $110 course fee, registrants receive two hours of research-based program training and their choice of either a printed manual or digital USB curriculum. Additional options include adding CEUs for $20, training additional staff for $20 each, or purchasing a curriculum package separately without training. Visit to view all pricing options.

Learn more and register at by Dec. 2 for online training that will be held Friday, Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon. Anyone interested in the materials or facilitating the program may register. No previous training is required.

If you have questions or need reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, contact Family Life Educator and program organizer Chelsey Byers at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting access needs.