As we age, many seniors begin to lose some of their mental capabilities and cognitive functioning ability. We at Carefect Home Care Services understand that this is a serious concern for many adults, and we would like to provide some tips for activities that can boost brain activity in seniors. Family caregivers who start to notice cognitive decline in their loved ones should help facilitate activities that will boost their brain activity. As people age, their brain begins to lose some of its weight and volume which can cause disruptions in the synapses of the brain. The synapses are responsible for transmitting neurotransmitters in the brain. When the synapses begin to fail, it causes problems with memory retrieval. This is why many older adults will start to experience memory problems as they age. Engaging in activities that keep the brain active will help fight against some of the cell loss in the brain during the aging process. Preventing cell loss in the brain can help prevent memory impairment and cognitive decline.
There are numerous ways to stimulate the brain, and all seniors should be able to pick a few brain boosting activities that fit their interests and lifestyle. Some popular brain boosting activities include learning a new language, solving puzzles, playing board games and playing certain sports. Most of these options involve very little physical ability, so seniors with limited mobility can engage in these activities as well. Family caregivers can try out a variety of options with their loved one to see which one fits their interests the best so that they will want to continue the activity. Finding an activity that your loved one actually enjoys is important because they will benefit more if they enjoy what they are doing and they will be more likely to continue the activity if it is of interest to them. Family caregivers should keep in mind that the idea is to make stimulating the brain enjoyable, not to bore your loved one by forcing them to play chess all day (if they are not interested in that) or confusing them with complicated mathematical activities. It is important to find balance between what is too easy and what is too hard. In order to stimulate the brain, you do not want the activity to be too simple, but you also do not want it to be so hard that your loved one gets discouraged and quits.
Learning a new language
Seniors with an interest in travelling or foreign countries might enjoy learning a new language. Learning a new language can help stimulate the brain by triggering/prompting it to analyze new sounds which can help improve your loved one’s auditory processing skills. You can purchase a language course on a CD or look around online for an online course. If your loved one would prefer an in person learning experience you can look for a local tutor or try to find classes in your area. Learning a new language will also help improve their memory by requiring them to memorize the new words that they are learning. If your loved one is well enough to travel, you might even consider taking them to a country that speaks the language they are learning so that they can be immersed in the culture and stimulate the brain through hearing and speaking only that language on their trip. If they are not well enough to travel you can try renting foreign films so that they can focus on hearing the language and trying to understand what the film is about.
Learning a new type of art or hobby/Taking up art
For those with an interest in the arts, another brain boosting activity is learning a new type of art or hobby. As children we learn to understand spatial relations so that we will comprehend how things fit together. Learning a new type of art can help stimulate the area of the brain that controls spatial relations so that adults can continue to engage in basic activities such as writing, dressing themselves and even walking. Strong spatial relations skills allow the brain to understand word and letter order so that we can read and write as well as in which order we should put our clothes on so that we are sure to put on underwear before pants, and it allows us to judge distance so that we can walk without getting hurt. To improve spatial relations, you can encourage your loved ones to take up painting or drawing or they can try some more hands on activities like woodworking. Your loved one can start the activity on their own or you can find a class for them to take so that they can work with others. Many cities have afternoon painting classes where they teach everyone how to paint the same thing and include all of the supplies, or where you paint a piece of pottery or glassware.
The two activities that we have mentioned so far are more for people who are interested in the arts than for those interested in sports or logic. Our next post will include more brain boosting activities that many seniors will enjoy even if they are not interested in learning a new language or taking up art.