When it comes to brain power, that old saying “use it or lose it” seems to apply. As we age, changes occur in our brains that make us more susceptible to memory loss and degeneration. Efforts to keep the cognitive functioning of seniors at a high level will reduce loss of memory, and even improve brain functioning and recall. Home care providers can really improve the quality of their clients’ lives by engaging them in brain and memory exercises, and they are often fun too!
Just like muscles in the body, muscles in the brain will atrophy from disuse. Aging creates impediments that are hard enough, without adding the strain of disuse to the mix. There are a variety of different activities that seniors can engage in that will stimulate the different areas of their brain, keeping them sharp and active. Many also believe that the strengthening of the mind through brain and memory exercises can also help to reduce the risk of age-related memory-impairing diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
What follows is just a small sample of the available activities for seniors that will help to improve the mental functioning and processing of the brain. For more ideas, check out the huge variety of online games that are designed to stimulate the brain and improve memory and concentration. Many of these games are free and easy for seniors to understand, making them accessible, despite the reliance on technology.
- The Recall Test: This is a brain and memory exercise that can be created easily and can actually help to improve memory, as well as recall abilities in seniors. All that is needed is a list of about ten words or items. It is suggested that a grocery list or a list of correlating terms be used. Show the senior this list and allow them to study it. An hour later, see how many of the words the senior can remember.
- Hobbies: Learning a new skill such as cooking, bingo, a craft group, or whatever captures one’s interest is a great way to socialize and to also learn or perfect a skill. Learning something new opens up many areas of the brain to advanced functioning and can strengthen overall mental functioning. Many also derive immense satisfaction from learning how to do something new.
- Cultivate Relationships: It can be hard for older individuals to connect with others who share their interests, but it is important for stimulating the different areas of their brain and essential for their psychological/mental well-being to get out and communicate with their peers.
- Word and Information Association: It is often easier to learn and retain new information if we have something we can mentally connect it to. This is why word associations that link a new word to something we already know make recall so much easier. The same is true for the learning of new concepts. Being able to relate new information to what we already possess makes retaining and recalling this information a lot easier for seniors.
- Crossword Puzzles and Word Games: Not only do many people enjoy various types of word games – and there are tons to choose from to meet the interests of most people – they can also help to improve brain functioning. These types of games stimulating the problem-solving areas of the brain and can also expand vocabulary while improving one’s ability to recall terms and phrases more easily.
- Exercise: While this might not seem like a brain or memory exercise, it actually is. While seniors may suffer from different limitations to their mobility, there are tons of ways to help seniors get active. Physical activity helps to stimulate a number of very important hormones and has also been shown to promote mental clarity.
- Reading: Reading is not only an excellent way to pass the time, it is also a great way to strengthen mental faculties, improve short-term memory and recall and a great way to expand one’s vocabulary. For those who cannot get out much, getting lost in a good book is an excellent way to unwind and relax. Choose from large print books, books on tape, or as a caregiver, read to your clients to help improve their mental functioning.
At Carefect Homecare Services, we understand that caring for seniors goes far beyond simply housekeeping and medication reminders. Our highly trained staff cares for their clients, striving to provide not only the highest quality in-home care services, but also creating a connection with their clients and working to improve their clients’ quality of live.