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Monday, July 13, 2015

Former teacher's classes keep people's brains active at retirement community

Rita Sherrow, World Scene Writer summarizes, "Dottie Piet can’t live without learning."


The former teacher — who also writes songs and poetry, plays multiple musical instruments, does artwork and craft projects, and doesn’t have time in her day for TV — is sharing her wealth of energy and knowledge with others.

“If I don’t keep learning like this, I get very bored and depressed,” she said in a recent interview. “And, if it (her knowledge) can overflow and help others, that’s great. I’m glad I have people here who like to learn.”

“Here” is The Broadmoor Retirement Community, 8205 E. 22nd St., and the “people” are fellow residents who are attending a six-month course she is teaching on the history of music.

Last week, the subject was music of the ’40s and ’50s and she dressed as Rosie the Riveter to act as emcee. Each month, she writes her own scripts and then leads the 40-plus participants through the history of an era, which includes a sing-along with videos gathered by activities director Sharon Fleming. They are songs that bring back the past, she said.

“Music is a tool to keep the body happy,” said Piet, whose energy and enthusiasm is infectious.

“I have noticed in my group, they are responding with memories that they have connected to the songs, which means they are going back in their memory banks and pulling out some good, happy stuff. You are adding to your total health when you can think good thoughts.”

A lifelong teacher, the 76-year-old Piet retired and moved to The Broadmoor from her Broken Arrow home in 2013 after getting to a point, she said, where she had to hire people to do the things that she couldn’t do.

“I just finally did it and made the big move, and it’s quite a watershed moment,” Piet said. “Everybody who comes here, I can see in their eyes that same feeling I had when I came. There’s a big, big adjustment period.”

But it was not something that slowed her down. Always working on something, she previously spent three months reading up on the latest brain research and decided to pass on what she learned to her fellow residents in a brain workshop.

Each week, she spent one hour teaching a different topic about the brain — right brain, the effect of stress on the brain, sleep and the brain — and she used medical videos to explain the material.

“The thing that came across as the biggest point was that before 1990 they thought that once the brain aged it just went downhill and there was no saving it after that,” she said. “But they found out that the brain can actually regenerate. There’s a little place in the brain known as the hippocampus (the part involved in memory development, organization and storage) and you can actually make that grow and regenerate cells through exercises and proper diet.

“That’s the exciting news. It gives people hope for the future, that we can do something about our health and our brain.”

She said she handed out summaries of the information to participants and gave them assignments like playing games and puzzles to stimulate brain activity.
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Additional resources
Brain games
The brain is like a muscle: Wse it or lose it, researchers say.
Researchers at Medical World Search suggest games like the following below can have health benefits for your brain.
Braino or Scrammble board games: Word game systems based on the idea of scrambling alphabets in one's brains to form meaningful words to score points in a variety of games. Learn more at
Pat's Page: Involves memorizing words, then remembering them three minutes later and writing them down. Find it online at
Game With Kids: All sorts of games involving math, reading and puzzles are available at
Queendom: Interactive games and exercises for the brain. Some charges may apply. Go to
Discovery Education: All sorts of brain boosters for adults and children. Check it out at boostbraingames.

Source: Tulsa World