Newsletter

Marshmallow and chocolate on sticks with peppermint (via American Heritage Chocolate/Unsplash)

The Rotary Club of McLean will peer back into the colonial era this weekend for its 11th annual chocolate festival.

Set to return this Sunday (Jan. 29), the McLean Chocolate Festival will feature a colonial America chocolate-making demonstration, along with vendors, free entertainment and children’s games. The demo is being presented by American Heritage, a brand of locally headquartered candy maker Mars Inc.

The festival is organized by and serves as a key fundraiser for the rotary club, which uses the proceeds to support local and international charities and educational programs, according to the website.

The 2022 festival, which marked a return after a year off due to Covid, drew 2,500 attendees and raised almost $24,000, the rotary club says.

The following chocolatiers and other vendors will be participating this year:

Entertainment options include a talk about the history of chocolate from Mars Inc. chocolate historian Dave Borghesani and music from the J2N2 Project, a Maryland-based flute quartet.

The festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue). Admission costs $2, though kids 3 and under can get in for free.

For anyone whose chocolate cravings aren’t sated Sunday, you won’t have to wait even a week for the return of Fairfax City’s Chocolate Lover’s Festival, which will be held Friday, Feb. 3, through Sunday, Feb. 4.

Photo via American Heritage Chocolate/Unsplash

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A car on Sunrise Valley Drive passes the Innovation Metro station (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County is again asking the state for money to offset anticipated reductions in resident vehicle tax payments.

At a meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 24), the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a letter written by Chairman Jeff McKay for Gov. Glenn Youngkin, asking him to include money in his budget for localities to blunt the impact of a 15% decrease in car tax revenue.

“We all heard last year the complaints that came in. I don’t think people understand that we don’t set the value of cars. They are set by others,” Chairman Jeff McKay said. “So, the tool that we had in our toolbox was to automatically put a reduction in value on all those vehicles in the county. Even with that, most people’s…tax bills went up.”

Over the last several years, used car prices have increased dramatically, though they’ve started to come down in recent weeks. Because of that, many county taxpayers are paying significantly more in personal property tax — also known as the “car tax.”

Last year, the Board approved assessing vehicles at only 85% of market value in order to give some relief to county taxpayers. That came after Youngkin signed legislation giving localities express permission to do that, in accordance with the Dillon Rule.

However, the county relies on that money as part of its tax revenue to fund services. In 1998, Virginia passed the Personal Property Tax Relief Act, which dictates that the state should offer car tax relief and subsidize localities for lost revenue owed on the first $20,000 of a vehicle’s value.

But the amount of funding provided to localities hasn’t changed since 2007, and Virginia now provides 20% less relief. In other words, both taxpayers and the county government are getting significantly less money from the state than they did 16 years ago.

After cutting another 15% for fiscal year 2023, which began July 1, 2022, the Fairfax County board is asking to get more money back from the state — a request also made to the governor last year, McKay’s board matter notes.

Youngkin has suggested cutting the car tax entirely, but county officials have expressed some trepidation about the consequences unless the money is reimbursed. McKay said reimbursement might be possible now considering the state’s nearly $2 billion surplus.

“While either the state or county could eliminate car taxes all together, the state should honor its pledge of 1998 to eliminate the car tax while reimbursing local governments for lost revenue,” the letter to Youngkin says. “It is essential and possible, particularly as the state currently sits on a significant surplus, to allocate adequate funding to provide residents with effective personal property tax relief.”

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw argued that the state can’t truly claim to have a surplus until “the Commonwealth pays its bills…and this is an example.”

“If it doesn’t happen this year with the surplus that exists, it ain’t going to happen next year or the year after that,” he said.

While the governor already released his budget last month, amendments — including one to offset lost vehicle tax revenue — could still happen at the direction of the General Assembly.

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Sandbox VR is planning to open a virtual reality gaming center at The Boro in Tysons (courtesy Sandbox VR)

(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) In case the apocalyptic vision of HBO’s “The Last of Us” adaptation isn’t immersive enough, you’ll soon be able to physically battle zombie hordes at The Boro.

The Tysons neighborhood will be home to a new virtual reality gaming venue from the San Francisco-based startup Sandbox VR, which says it utilizes full-body motion capture technology to achieve a level of realism and immersion inspired by the holodecks in “Star Trek.”

The deal was first reported by the Washington Business Journal.

According to a press release, Sandbox has leased a 7,500-square-feet space at 1656 Silver Hill Drive that will feature four private gaming rooms, or holodecks, which can each accommodate up to six players. The center is expected to open this summer.

Located across the street from the ShowPlace ICON Theatre, the new tenant is part of a push to provide more “experiential” amenities for residents and workers, according to The Meridian Group, the developer behind The Boro.

“At The Boro, we strive to create an interactive, socially engaged neighborhood cultivated by experiential retailers like Sandbox VR,” Meridian Vice President of Asset Management Charlie Schwieger said. “With a concept that promotes community and team building through technological innovation, Sandbox VR makes a unique, exciting addition to The Boro’s growing portfolio of eclectic restaurants, shops and attractions.”

Launched in 2019, Sandbox has over 30 locations worldwide and counts celebrities Will Smith, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake and Kevin Durant among its investors, according to its website. The Tysons location will be the first in Virginia, though Virginia Beach and Woodbridge centers are also in the works.

Sandbox VR offers six different virtual reality “experiences,” including one involving zombie-fighting (courtesy The Boro)

The company says its in-house studio has developed six different “experiences,” including a pirate adventure, a haunted-house game and the latest addition involving zombies.

The Boro shared more on how the holodecks work in its press release:

The Boro’s Sandbox VR location will feature 4 private rooms for virtual reality gameplay called “holodecks,” in which groups of up to six players will explore virtual worlds and rely on each other to succeed in games designed to be social experiences. Together with friends, family, or co-workers, players are equipped with a VR headset, a haptic vest, a backpack and motion sensors on their wrists and ankles. This technology allows players to see and physically interact with one another while feeling like they are in the middle of an action movie, with the heightened emotions that come from not just watching a film, but from actually becoming the stars of the action.

David Friedman, Sandbox’s vice president of global real estate, said the company was drawn to Tysons due to its proximity to D.C. and status as “one of the largest areas for office and retail in the country.”

Just last month, the Boro welcomed the long-awaited restaurants Circa and Él Bebe. The burger joint Caliburger is expected to open at 8301 Greensboro Drive in the first quarter of this year.

Construction on a second phase of The Boro on the north side of Westpark Drive is on track to reach substantial completion in 2025.

Work began last April on The Trillium, a 16-story senior living facility, and Fairfax County approved plans for more residential buildings a month later. In total, the 9.37-acre expansion will add 160,000 square feet of retail and 610,000 square feet of housing.

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Morning Notes

A woman walks her dog at Lake Anne Plaza (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The President Stops by Springfield — Joe Biden discussed his economic plans yesterday (Thursday) at the Springfield campus of Steamfitters Local 602, a labor union for D.C. area contract workers in the heating, cooling and air-conditioning piping industry. The presidential motorcade took over I-395 during rush hour after the event, which was attended by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn. [Twitter]

Free Flu Vaccine Clinic Tomorrow — The Fairfax County Health Department will provide free flu vaccinations at its Mount Vernon District Office (8350 Richmond Highway, Suite 233) from 8 a.m. to noon tomorrow (Saturday). Shots usually cost $25 for uninsured adults, $21.24 for uninsured kids and $30 with private insurance. Call 703-246-7100 to make an appointment. [FCHD/Twitter]

Senate Tables Silver Line Casino Bill — “A last-minute bill submitted by State Sen. David Marsden (D-Burke) that would’ve paved the way for casinos to be built within a mile of Silver Line Metro Stations in Fairfax County was killed in committee on Wednesday afternoon…When news of the casino bill became more widely known, Fairfax County officials spoke out against it.” [Patch]

Metro Plans to Boost Frequency of Trains — “Metro will improve train arrival times in February, but only on certain lines during the busiest times and days. Starting Feb. 7, trains will pull into Blue and Orange Line stations every 12 minutes during the new peak rush hours — Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m.” [DCist]

Funding Approved for Housing at Government Center — “At the January 19th meeting of the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA), Commissioners approved up to $14 million to finance Phase 1 of the Residences at Government Center II, a new 279-unit development of affordable housing in the Braddock District.” [Housing and Community Development]

Great Falls Resident Says Library Speaker Fees Too High — A Great Falls resident who objected to Dolley Madison Library hosting a “Drag StoryBook Hour” and the availability of LBGTQ-centered books in local schools is now taking issue with the fees that Fairfax County Public Library pays invited speakers. The system has spent $53,100 on four authors so far this fiscal year. [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Funding Sought for Bus Route From Skyline to HQ2 — Arlington County will seek up to $8 million in regional funding for a new Metrobus route that would link the Skyline neighborhood in Bailey’s Crossroads to Amazon’s second headquarters in Pentagon City via Columbia Pike. An increase in ridership is expected after the first phase of Amazon’s new campus opens later this year. [ARLnow]

Omnium Circus Returning to Tysons — “Omnium Circus offers a uniquely accessible and inclusive day of family-friendly fun this February. We talked with Lisa Lewis, the Executive Director and founder of Omnium Circus, about this year’s show at Capital One Hall.” [Capital One Hall]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 43 and low of 31. Sunrise at 7:20 am and sunset at 5:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Pickleball players celebrate the opening of the courts at Glyndon Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The nationwide face-off between pickleball enthusiasts and homeowners has arrived in the Town of Vienna.

In the hopes of quieting resident noise complaints, the town council is set to vote on Monday (Jan. 30) to reduce pickleball play to three days per week at the courts in Glyndon Park (300 Glyndon Street NE).

Currently available seven days a week, the four pickleball courts would open Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays under the proposal from the Vienna Parks and Recreation Department. The hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays would remain the same, but on Saturdays, they would end at 5 p.m.

Town staff recommended an 8 a.m. start time for Saturday, but at a conference session on Jan. 23 that saw some tense back-and-forth exchanges on both the dais and from the audience, a few council members suggested considering 9 a.m. instead, since kids might want to sleep in on the weekend.

“I don’t know that anybody is a hundred percent thrilled with this, but it is in my mind a compromise, and it’s something we can do right now,” Mayor Linda Colbert said.

Glyndon Park’s pickleball courts were welcomed with gusto by local players — including the mayor, who also partakes in tennis — when they opened in October 2020. With aid from the Vienna Pickleball Club, which paid for some of the equipment, the town added pickleball markings to the two existing tennis courts as part of a planned refurbishment.

However, players have run afoul of some nearby residents, who describe the sound of paddles hitting the plastic balls as “unbearable, loud and constant,” according to one comment in an October survey conducted by the parks department.

“The noise is unbearable,” wrote a resident of Jean Place NE, which is across the street from the courts. “The constant popping 12 hours a day 7 days a week is borderline torture. We cannot use our outdoor space anymore due to pickleball and cannot open our windows.”

The survey went to 34 households and received 17 responses, including seven from people who reported having no issues with pickleball. Parking and traffic complaints also came up, but Parks Director Leslie Herman said those “have been taken care of” with signage directing players to an overflow parking lot by the baseball diamonds.

Vienna isn’t alone in seeing clashes between homeowners and pickleball players. As the sport has grown in popularity over the past decade, so have the noise complaints, leading some communities to close courts and others to be taken to court — including in nearby Arlington County.

The sound level for pickleball is anywhere from 57 to 79 decibels, depending on proximity and the type of equipment used. That’s 25 decibels higher than a tennis racket hitting a ball, according to the Los Angeles Times.

People talking can also contribute to the noise levels, Councilmember Ray Brill said, recalling a visit to Glyndon Park where he saw dozens of people at the courts who weren’t playing.

“I love exercising, and I love playing sports outdoors, but we have neighbors we have to be considerate of,” Brill said. “There’s no shortcuts, so we have to compromise. We have to allow people to play, but they have to take steps to reduce the noise.”

Building off of the resident survey, the parks department asked both pickleball and tennis players to weigh in on the potential schedule change presented to the council, along with the option to eliminate weekends.

Sixty-five of the 85 players who responded favored keeping weekend play, but many criticized the survey as “restrictive” and “ridiculous,” arguing that pickleball playing at a public park shouldn’t be restricted beyond the town’s noise ordinance rules.

“The sport is rapidly growing in popularity,” a Park Street resident said. “The Town should be making an effort to accommodate that growth. The proposal reflected in the survey is a step in the wrong direction.”

Respondents suggested the town plant trees to create a sound barrier or develop more pickleball facilities to alleviate the demand at Glyndon, among other options.

Council members sounded skeptical of noise curtains and split on providing quieter balls and paddles. Colbert volunteered to buy a “silent” paddle and foam balls to test their effectiveness, though the council questioned if players would agree to use the alternative equipment and how that would be enforced.

In addition to supporting reservations at Meadow Lane Park, which has a shared tennis/pickleball court, some members were receptive to at least evaluating whether to add pickleball courts at the former Faith Baptist Church while the town decides what to do with the property long-term.

According to Herman, the pickleball courts could be 230 feet from the closest residence. The Glyndon courts are just 72 feet away from the nearest property line, Brill said, based on a measurement he took that morning.

This spring, the town will conduct a parks master plan review that will include a look at its pickleball needs, similar to the study undertaken by Fairfax County in 2021.

“Then a complete study’s done on it as part of the park master plan…and it would be based off of making sure that we’re keeping in consideration how far they’re being built from residents’ homes,” Herman said.

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The Tysons location you want. The luxurious features and finishes you desire. The thoughtful amenities you deserve. This is Monarch — Tysons’ only new high-rise condominium building — opening Spring 2023.

Monarch offers exceptional privacy, serene outdoor spaces, white glove services, stunning interiors, and incredible views. Complementing the surrounding natural beauty and energy of Tysons, Monarch provides the ultimate luxury escape from the urban hustle with spaces that maximize flow and function.

Each residence offers an abundance of natural light, expansive views, chef’s kitchen, and spacious private outdoor living areas, with some featuring direct-entry elevators. From the richly lacquered cabinetry to the inspiring floor-to-ceiling windows, Monarch is defined by the details you will rediscover daily.

Let our 24-hour Concierge assist with everything from selecting a fine dining restaurant to coordinating a private party. Monarch is the only new condominium community in Tysons offering this level of superior service, designed to indulge and pamper its residents each and every day.

Whether you’re admiring the grand lobby, working out in the state-of-the-art fitness center, lounging next to the sparkling blue waters of the pool, or enjoying sunset cocktails on the terrace, Monarch makes a statement at every turn.

Located on the sophisticated side of Tysons — and backing to the park-like oasis that is Arbor Row — world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment experiences are only a block away. The nearby Silver Line Metro connects residents with everything Washington, D.C., and Dulles International Airport, where the whole world awaits just beyond.

Monarch is the pinnacle of condominium living in Tysons, where even a “quiet evening at home” becomes something extraordinary.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

The shop 520 Ice Cream and Tea has closed at the Mosaic District after five years (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Mosaic District is no longer home to the self-proclaimed first Thai-style rolled ice cream shop in Virginia.

520 Ice Cream & Tea permanently closed on Dec. 30, according to an Instagram post. A notice posted to the door at 2985 District Avenue, Suite 160, said the shop wouldn’t reopen in 2023.

“We thank you for five years of incredible support!” the notice said.

Billed as the first “Thai-inspired” ice cream establishment in Virginia and Maryland, the business had a location in Springfield that appears to have closed in 2019. Its Maryland locations in Rockville, Bethesda and College Park still seem to be open.

Several of the more recent Yelp reviews for the Mosaic shop complain about half-hour-long waits for ice cream. FFXnow was unable to reach 520 Ice Cream for an explanation of the closure.

The Mosaic District recently welcomed Kirby Club, a Mediterranean restaurant that opened in late December. Construction is underway in the neighborhood for three new tenants: a Pottery Barn furniture store, the jewelry business Brilliant Earth and the clothing store Faherty.

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Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay (file photo)

Fairfax County’s top priorities for 2023 will be increasing mental health services, boosting police retention, addressing commercial office vacancies, and improving pedestrian safety, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says.

Adequately addressing those needs, though, requires more financial help and local authority from Virginia’s General Assembly, he told FFXnow in an interview.

With the county increasingly reliant on real estate taxes, officials expect this budget cycle to be one of the most challenging in a decade.

As property values rise, the tax burden on property owners is already “significant” and hurting residents, McKay said. To not “exacerbate” the situation, the county likely needs to lower the real estate tax rate.

“I personally believe absolutely we have to reduce the tax rate as a part of this next budget,” McKay said.

Continued recovery from the pandemic is paramount, informing all the board’s priorities for the upcoming year, McKay said.

While economic recovery from the pandemic tends to get a lot of attention, there remains “a lot of work to do” on human services, according to the chairman.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is the ongoing growth of mental health challenges, especially with some of our young people,” McKay said. “I do think that a good chunk of that is a byproduct of what we’ve been through with Covid.”

Mental health-related challenges affect everything from police calls to unemployment and schools, he said. The county’s current budget gave close to $186 million to the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, which provides support services.

McKay believes the state’s $37 million contribution isn’t enough, arguing that mental health funding should be “primarily a state responsibility.”

“This is something the state has to get really serious about addressing,” he said. “Frankly, if they provided the level of support that the county did, we probably wouldn’t have near the mental health challenges in Virginia that we have now.”

Increasing mental health services could mean more educational programs, staffing, and supportive programs.

It also ties into public safety, as the Fairfax County Police Department struggles with understaffing and retention. McKay says officers are being asked to take on responsibilities that they shouldn’t have to handle.

“Increasingly our police are almost being asked to be mental health clinicians [when then are] mental health service calls,” he said. “It’s stressing them out and getting people not interested in joining police departments.”

In 2021, the county instituted a co-responder program where a crisis intervention specialist joins police officers on certain mental health-related calls. Alongside the county’s Diversion First program, launched in 2016, it provides treatment to individuals instead of incarceration. McKay says the programs need to “grow dramatically.”

Right now, the co-responder program has only two full-time counselors, but it needs 16 full-time staff. The deficit became tragically clear in August when police shot and killed a 26-year-old McLean resident who was experiencing a mental health crisis.

Inadequate staffing also means one mental health call could tie up an officer for an entire shift.

“They have to chaperone them into a hospital for endless hours, which takes officers off the street and costs the county a lot of money,” McKay said. “A big goal of mine is to fund the co-responder program and to hold the state accountable for their lack of funding. We have to recognize that if you’re going to get a full Covid recovery, you have to put resources into mental health services.”

He’s optimistic more resources could be coming the county’s way due to a state surplus and a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem.

$37 million [from the state] for mental health support is embarrassing given the need that we have and given the conversation that the governor has had about increasing funding in this area,” he said. “How can you not be optimistic that they see the obvious here and address it?”

Finding a solution to high office vacancies and an “overreliance” on real estate taxes are also priorities.

The board seeks to enable conversions of underused office space into retail, housing or even homeless shelters. While it’s up to the private sector to follow through, McKay acknowledged the county could make its policies easier to understand and implement. The county’s new online platform for permitting and zoning was plagued by technical issues last fall.

“It’s been a challenge, a massive headache,” McKay said about the system launch. “If we can get people through our process quicker, more predictable, and more reliable, using technology to help cut through some of the bureaucratic red tape, we can get some of these redevelopment projects moving a lot quicker.”

He said all the county’s processes need to be “firing on all cylinders.”

The board will also focus on pedestrian safety in 2023, with “major money” being committed to projects and programs after a surge in fatalities in Fairfax County and across the region.

McKay noted again that this isn’t solely a county problem to solve.

“We have a lot of [Virginia Department of Transportation] streets that the county doesn’t own, that needs sidewalk or pedestrian improvements,” he said.

McKay also referenced $102 million that was diverted away from Northern Virginia to fund Metro. About $64 million has been restored, but the remaining $40 million is “essential” for needed safety improvements. The county has already identified dozens of projects after the board pledged to spend more than $100 million over the next few years.

County Executive Bryan Hill will release the fiscal year 2024 advertised budget plan on Feb. 21. A final budget will be adopted May 9.

By then, the county should know exactly how much money to expect from the state.

“We don’t have unlimited funding,” McKay said. “Not to be a broken record here, but I’m pushing hard during this [General Assembly] session to get real money for these priorities.”

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Morning Notes

Construction on the Reston Town Center fountain seen from an 11th-story office (photo by Jeff Fielding)

Woman Killed in Mantua House Fire Identified — “86-year-old Crista Mensh was identified on Wednesday as the fatality from a house fire that fire crews believe originated from a natural Christmas tree…Total damages of the home cost over $615,000, Fairfax County fire confirmed.” [ABC7]

Suspects in Gaming Machine Thefts Arrested — “Two Maryland men were taken into custody [Tuesday], roughly two hours after the latest in a series of gaming machines thefts from area convenience stores. At 8:55 p.m. on Jan. 24, Fairfax County police officers were dispatched to the 7-Eleven at 8434 Frye Road…A store employee called saying two men just stole a gaming machine, loading the machine into a silver truck before leaving west on Frye Road.” [FCPD]

FCPS Recruiting Efforts Underway — Fairfax County Public Schools “has started hiring teachers for the 2023-24 school year, with a focus on filling vacancies at schools with large shares of students from low-income families. During a school board work session this week, Chief Operating Officer Marty Smith said Fairfax County Public Schools hired 51 teachers last week and has a pool with ’40 qualified candidates.'” [WTOP]

Fairfax Street Name Change Causes Confusion — The Joseph Willard Health Center has a new address of 3750 Blenheim Blvd. after Fairfax City renamed 14 of its streets, effective Jan. 1. Because “some websites, maps, and direction services are not yet updated,” the change “has caused some people to miss their appointments.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Police Seek Suspect in Fairfax Vehicle Shootings — “City of Fairfax Police are asking the public’s help in identifying a man they say may have information about a shooting incident on Fairfax Boulevard in early December, according to a release. Two vehicles traveling on Fairfax Boulevard around 1:50 a.m., on Dec. 8, were struck by gunfire, according to police.” [Patch]

Feedback Sought on School Year Calendars — “Your feedback is important! FCPS is seeking community input on the draft calendar options for the 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26 school years. Please share your thoughts with us by filling out this form before Tuesday, January 31, 1 p.m. The form will be available in other languages soon.” [FCPS]

Belle Haven Apartment Complex Opens — “The Belhaven Apartments, a multifamily residential building located at Kings Crossing in Alexandria, has completed several units for tenant move-in and actively begun leasing them. Managed by Fairfield, The Belhaven offers studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments and has a limited number of units available under Fairfax County’s Workforce Dwelling Unit affordable housing program.” [On the MoVe]

Virginia Considers Markers for “Green Book” Sites — “Virginia may soon have road signs marking significant spots from the Jim Crow era, when Black Americans often had to be careful about where they went and which businesses they walked into. Under a bill passed by the House of Delegates Tuesday, Virginia would add historical markers showing ‘Green Book’ sites across the state.” [WTOP]

It’s Thursday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 51 and low of 37. Sunrise at 7:21 am and sunset at 5:24 pm. [Weather.gov]

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This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

Just as you can improve your general physical health with good habits, so too can you improve the health of your brain — boosting your memory and mental agility, as well as reducing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

Although research has found links between genes and one’s risk of Alzheimer’s, the exact cause is more likely a combination of genetics and other factors. Practicing good brain health at any age can help stave off the disease, as well as build up your cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve is a term describing the brain’s resilience toward damage.

The good news is that our brains are able to continue forming new neural connections throughout our life cycle, called neuroplasticity. In other words, no matter what your age, your brain health can improve as the internal structure of its neurons changes and as the number of synapses between neurons increases.

Brain health is an ongoing focus of Mather Institute, an award-winning resource for research and information about wellness, aging, trends in senior living, and successful aging service innovations. The Institute is the research arm of Mather, the parent organization to The Mather, a Life Plan Community coming to Tysons.

According to research gathered by Mather Institute, you can boost your brain health in a number of easy ways:

  1. Get a Move on. Regular physical activity can prevent or delay signs of dementia. People who have a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s Disease may be helped the most by physical activity.
  2. Oooohhmmmm… Meditation increases gray matter in areas of the brain associated with short- and long-term memory and complex cognitive processes.
  3. Go for the “Good Fats”! Mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are good for your brain, because of their essential nutrients. Unlike saturated fats, they don’t clog your arteries!
  4. Seek the Spiritual. In people with Alzheimer’s Disease, those who practiced religion or spirituality are associated with slower rates of cognitive decline.
  5. Walking the Walk. Cardio exercise such as brisk walking has been linked to growth in the area of the brain associated with creating new memories.
  6. 1, 2, 3, Relax! Stress is bad for the brain and the body. Learn to counter it by activating your relaxation state. For example, you can sit quietly and focus on slowing your breathing.
  7. Time to Go Back to School! Researchers believe that the most efficient way to build more connections between brain cells is to learn something new.
  8. Eat Your Fruits & Veggies. Antioxidants reduce chronic inflammation, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s. They also relieve oxidative stress, which has been linked to a number of conditions and diseases including Alzheimer’s.
  9. To Err Is Human… Forgiveness is good for the brain. Letting go of grudges and anger can reduce stress and depression, and increase feelings of well-being — all benefits to the brain!
  10. Be a Social Butterfly. Social engagement has been associated with preserving memory and thinking abilities. In one study of more than 1,000 older adults, the 10% with the highest level of social activity had 70% less cognitive decline than those in the lowest 10%.

The good news about brain health is that it’s never too late to start the healthy habits that can improve your cognitive abilities and protect you against dementia.

The Mather in Tysons, VA, for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be. It opens in 2024.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

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