Exercising your mind is important at all ages. The brain is made up of many specialized areas and nearly 100 billion neurons. If not used consistently, the brain can become atrophied. Brain atrophy essentially destroys neurons and the connections that help cells communicate. Mental exercises help stimulate the brain and sharpen thinking, memory, reasoning, and processing skills. According to scientists, seniors can gain an additional 14 years of “cognitive youth” by practicing mental exercises. Learn the top 7 elderly mental exercises that can help slow cognitive decline and improve mental capacity.
Puzzles are among the most popular of elderly mental exercises. Science has found that solving puzzles can be advantageous for both mental health and relaxation. Additionally puzzles are easy to integrate into your daily routine and can be fun to complete alone or with friends. There are all types of puzzles to try, such as traditional jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, or crosswords. In a study of 488 elderly performed in New York City, researchers found that participating in crossword puzzles helped delay the onset of accelerated memory decline by an average of 2.54 years. Puzzles can also be a fun pastime for elderly individuals who may be suffering from various mental health issues, such as depression.
Creating things with your own hands is not only fun but can actually be good for your brain. Research shows people who do crafts, such as quilting or pottery, have a 30 to 50 percent decrease in risk of developing memory loss. Crafting can also help lessen anxiety, fight depression, and bring about an overall feeling of happiness. Being able to complete a craft project can also build confidence and provide seniors with a sense of purpose. There are all types of crafting projects seniors can try, such as painting, collages, sewing, knitting, ceramics, and coloring.
Music is a powerful medium that stimulates emotions, improves our attention, and boosts memory and alertness. There are many fun ways to use music as a fun mental exercise. Try learning the lyrics to a new song and practice singing it. Play a musical instrument, such as the harmonica or piano. Even chanting has been found to have a profound effect on the brain by releasing mind chatter through music. Even singing on its own can be good for the mind by providing social, emotional and cognitive benefits. Music is also useful for reducing anxiety, stress, and depression, making it one of the best among elderly mental exercises.
Gardening is a popular pastime for many elderly individuals. It acts as an effective physical activity, keeping seniors active and mobile. Gardening is a great calming and wellness activity for seniors to participate in, as it has been found to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Many researchers believe that high levels of cortisol in the body may negatively impact memory and learning. High levels of cortisol can also increase a person’s risk of developing a mental illness. There is also a strong link between gardening and reducing the risks of dementia. In a 2006 study that looked at over 2,800 people over age 60, gardening was found to lower the risk of future dementia by 36 percent.
Seniors who enjoy tasting good food will love trying this next elderly mental exercise. Purchase a variety of new fruits, veggies, and other ingredients that you have never tried before. With your eyes closed, try to identify the ingredients by taste, texture, and smell alone. The same concept can be done with entire meals. For example, if you sample a chunky soup try to guess what type of pasta, vegetables, and broth it contains. You can even make guesses right down to the spices and seasonings.
Speaking of food, cooking is an excellent mental exercise that uses all five senses. Find interesting recipes to try in one of your cookbooks or look online. Develop new cooking skills as you test out complex recipes that you have never tried before. Cooking can also be a great socialization tool. Invite over a friend or family member to cook alongside you. After you are finished preparing and cooking your meal, sit down together and have a delicious meal and conversation. If you have more of a sweet tooth, baking is a great alternative to traditional cooking.
Writing is one of the most underrated of all elderly mental exercises. Not only does writing stimulate brain cells, but it can also be effective at improving memory and increasing your intelligence. Some seniors prefer to use good old fashioned paper and pen to write, while others like the convenience of writing on the computer in a word document. What you write really does not matter. Consider keeping a journal of your daily activities, write poems or stories, or send letters to family or friends. Even if you just write out a grocery list, you are effectively stimulating and strengthening parts of the creative brain.
Promote Elderly Mental Exercises Through In-Home Care
As you age, your brain’s cognitive reserve begins to diminish, along with its ability to withstand various types of neurological damage. Stimulating your brain through regular elderly mental exercises have been found highly useful in increasing and maintaining mental capacity. Unfortunately, many seniors forget or neglect to perform these types of exercises without some outside encouragement. Part of in-home care services deals with helping seniors perform helpful mental exercises. When you hire an in-home care agency, a trained and experienced aide will provide assistance with all aspects of daily living to ensure that the elderly individual leads a comfortable and happy life.
In-home care services aim to help aging adults stay mentally fit by improving brain health through simple mental exercises. From cooking meals and making music to writing letters and doing crafts, an in-home care aide can assist seniors in all aspects of daily activity. These services also include other activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, toileting, walking, and staying active. Aides can also help with light cleaning, medication reminders, meal prep, and transportation to and from doctor’s appointments and grocery stores. For more information or to acquire in-home care services, contact the in-home caregivers at Comfort Home Care.