Worried about your forgetfulness? If you’re a senior or you have elderly loved ones then this article is worth your time. Aging comes with a lot of challenges.
As people grow older, their bodily systems start to slow down, the brain declines gradually. Sometimes memory slips can be due to impaired memory or Alzheimer’s disease.
Fortunately, there is a way to work around memory slips associated with the normal aging process. In this article, you’re going to learn about seven mind-stimulating activities for elderly loved ones.
But before that, let’s understand a few things.
What happens to the brain during the aging process?
With normal aging, elderly people start to experience hearing loss that’s followed by the decline of vision. Their reflexes begin to slow and memories start to decline.
Studies have shown that the brain shrinks as we age. The shrinking of the brain impairs mental processing. Unfortunately, aging is inevitable.
Thankfully, you can improve or maintain brain power through simple mind-stimulating exercises- that we’re about to share with you here.
The idea is to do different brain-stimulating activities regularly.
Memory changes related to normal aging
- Challenges learning something new. It takes longer to new information to memory.
- Constantly forgetting where you left your things- car keys, glasses, etc.
- Forgetting names of acquaintances or calling the wrong person the wrong name.
- Getting into a room and forgetting why you entered.
- Occasionally forgetting appointments.
- Taking longer to retrieve the information you have.
Common brain changes associated with aging according to scientists include:
Neurotransmitter systems– Researchers suggest that as the brain ages, it produces fewer chemical messengers which leads to declining cognition and memory and increasing depression.
Brain mass– Shrinking of the areas responsible for higher cognition function and encoding of new memories- the hippocampus and frontal lobe.
White matter– Shrinking of myelin (nerve fibers that carry signals between brain cells) hence leading to slower mental processing and reduced cognitive function.
To slow down or prevent brain deterioration, researchers recommend the following mind-stimulating activities.
1. Word Games
Word games act as brainteasers. They arouse many parts of the brain which helps to improve memory, thinking patterns and processes as well as recall.
Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords are just a few effective word games for older adults.
Seniors who enjoyed word games in the past may still play them.
Of course, they may experience challenges with the advanced wordplay exercises, unlike in the past, but they can enjoy simpler ones.
A home caregiver can be a good companion when it comes to playing word games for seniors.
At-home caregivers can encourage seniors to complete crossword puzzles printed in daily newspapers or buy from stores.
These games are a fun way of engaging the brain.
Reading is also a brain-stimulating activity for seniors.
Encouraging your elderly loved ones to read books and magazines can help engage them and keep their brain active.
Aside from books and magazines, encouraging older adults to read articles on the web, daily newspapers, or an entertaining novel could not only help to keep them stay informed and entertained but also helps to improve their cognitive functions.
Reading encourages imagination and stimulates the brain to create images that match those on paper. This makes reading an entertaining and effective way to engage the brain and keep it active.
Some seniors enjoy reading children’s books as they are easier to read and comprehend.
3. Computer Games
Computer games are entertaining and fun. They are also effective when it comes to stimulating the brain.
While they are known for entertaining and keeping the younger generation busy, computer games are also effective activities for stimulating the mind of older adults.
The good news is that there are tons of computer games aimed at seniors on the internet- you can also buy them at your local computer shops.
Regular physical exercise can help to prevent age-related mental decline.
The idea is that physical exercise improves brain activity by increasing the circulation of essential nutrients and oxygen to the entire body- including brain cells and nerve impulses.
The good news is that you don’t need to put your elderly loved ones through hard exercising.
Walking, yoga, or a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise of moderate intensity for at least 20 t0 30 minutes regularly can help to improve brain power, focus, and promote relaxation for seniors.
Some studies have shown that older people aged over 50 years who don’t engage in physical exercise experience a decline in memory and thinking capacity.
Researchers say that physical activity can help to slow brain aging by 10 years.
Dancing is also an effective brain-stimulating activity to slow down age-related memory decline.
5. Playing Musical Instrument
Playing a musical instrument could also help to delay age-related cognitive decline and retain listening skills for older adults.
The process of learning how to play a sound on a musical instrument alters brain waves in a way that improves listening and hearing skills for older people.
The change in brain activity shows that the brain renews itself to improve an individual’s ability to perform tasks.
Typically, the act of playing a musical instrument requires coordination of multiple brain elements- the perception, hearing, motor, and other brain systems.
6. Craft Projects and Hobbies
The act of creating something engages our hands and minds to manufacture something unique.
An activity of this nature helps to flex mental muscles as the brain is required to stay focused and engaged.
It could be simple art-focused crafts like building model railway sets.
The activity improves mental focus.
Hobbies like scrapbooking, stamp collecting, and many others also help to improve mental focus.
Vitamin D deficiencies could impair neuroglial systems beneficial for the brain.
Gardening is an activity that involves spending time outdoors and could help seniors get fresh air and exposure to sunlight, a natural source of vitamin D.
You could accompany your elderly loved ones to plant a few seedlings in a container or weeding a flowerbed.
8. Board and Card Games
Board games are enjoyable and fun for most seniors. Playing board games involves engaging with other players which require thought and planning. Card games are also another effective brain-stimulating activity for seniors.
Playing simple card games such as Solitaire, Memory Match, and Poker can help to boost cognitive function in seniors.
They help to trigger parts of the brain responsible for rational problem-solving and memory retention.
Caregivers can play card games with seniors after dinner to sharpen their minds.
9. Learning a New Language
Our learning abilities start to decline as we grow older. However, learning a new language can be a great way of creating new mental connections.
You could help your older loved ones to brush up on some long-forgotten language or learn a new language from the start.
There is a ton of online resources for seniors out there.
10. Cooking Activities
Cooking classes can be powerful brain-stimulating activities for seniors as well.
The act of learning something is what’s important for older adults as it involves using the brain to mix certain ingredients in the right quantity.
First, there is planning then there is thinking required when following recipes and the entire cooking process.
11. Playing Chess Games
Chess games are used for educational purposes due to their brain-stimulating abilities.
For seniors, playing chess games could be beneficial in the following ways:
- Increase creativity.
- Increase individual’s IQ.
- Stimulates the brain.
- Improves concentration, memory, reading, problem-solving skills, and many more.
12. Chatting With Others
Having a conversation with others is also another powerful brain-stimulating activity for seniors.
Of course, chatting may not be an activity for most of us; however, for seniors who may be spending most of their time alone, encouraging them to chat with others could help them feel part of society.
Spend time discussing with your elderly loved ones and encourage them to share their experiences.
13. Using Brain Training Apps
From Lumosity to Happify and Braingle, the internet has no shortage of brain training apps that could help to train the brain and improve memory for seniors.
The good news is that these apps are easily accessible and seniors can use them when they are bored or on a long journey.
Some apps contain brain exercises that help to improve mental focus and memory while some present exercises that enhance reasoning, awareness, etc.
Last but not least, a healthy diet is a key component of brain health.
Researchers suggest that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help provide healthy brain aging.
Keeping our brains healthy and stimulated is crucial as we grow older. As stated above, older people who exercise their brain cells regularly are less likely to lose cognitive functions than those who don’t exercise.
If you’re a senior or you have elderly loved ones then these mentally stimulating activities could help to improve mental focus and memory.
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