What happens to the brain as it ages? Many seniors first experience hearing loss, followed by the deterioration of eyesight. Our reflexes begin to slow and our memories start to fail. Brain-scan technology reveals that the brain actually shrinks as we age. This shrinkage causes a decline in mental processing. While aging is inevitable, you can maintain or improve your brain power through simple anti-aging brain exercises such as, games and activities. Cognitive activities help to keep the mind sharp and alert. The key is to do a variety of fun and engaging brain-stimulating activities on a regular basis.
Exercise is good for the brain and body. A good workout affects the brain by increasing heart rate, which pumps extra oxygen to the brain. It also stimulates brain plasticity by promoting the growth of new cell connections. Talk a 15 to 30 minute walk each day or stroll yourself in a wheelchair. Chair exercises can also keep the body and mind active.
Music is a powerful tool that can impact our mood and induce feelings of happiness, sadness, or overall wellbeing. Play a CD of favorite songs or relaxation music that coordinates with the time of day, such as meal time or bed preparation. Seniors can get involved by shaking an instrument or singing or humming along.
Following a recipe and putting together a meal can stimulate the brain and force complex thinking habits. There are many kitchen and food-related tasks to try, from mashing potatoes and peeling apples to shucking corn and snapping peas.
Hobbies are not just a way to pass time. They can also mentally energize the brain and improve one’s quality of life. Hobbies can be anything that a senior enjoys, such as gardening, woodworking, home decorating, painting, or photography.
Art is an easy way to get your creative juices flowing and your brain engaged in a project. Colored pencils with an adult coloring book is a simple way to create beautiful pictures. Seniors can also try their hand at water colors, chalk pastels, or acrylic paints.
Pets can help lower stress hormones and bring comfort and joy to lonely seniors. They have also been known to reduce blood pressure and help protect against heart conditions. If you can’t have a pet of your own, consider a pet visit from a local shelter.
Reading improves brain function and connectivity. Reading or even listening to a book on tape is a workout for the brain and provides other calming benefits. If an older senior can’t read on their own, find a family member or friend to read aloud to them.
Games are an enjoyable way to interact and use your complex thinking skills. Classic card games like poker, gin, and crazy 8’s are familiar to most seniors and force the mind to work harder to achieve a desirable outcome. Other games like ‘Name that Tune’ help test long-term memory.
Some seniors find writing a soothing and brain stimulating activity that doubles as a personalized pastime. Writing down ideas, thoughts, and daily activities in a journal boosts memory and comprehension. Seniors can also dabble in other forms of writing, such as poetry or storytelling.
As you age, it becomes more and more important to find opportunities that help stimulate and challenge the brain. By engaging in stimulating brain exercises, you can help fight cognitive impairment and strengthen the mind.
Do you do any activities to keep your mind sharp? Let us know in the comments!