It’s no secret that regular physical activity is one of the keys to healthy aging, but did you know it’s just as important to make sure the brain gets a daily workout?
“Exercising the mind is just as important as exercising the body – especially for seniors, It’s critical to maintaining independence,” said Teresa Steinfatt, vice president of business development at the HomeCare Advocacy Network (HCAN). “There are a lot of fun options when it comes to brain exercises – all of which can help improve memory and problem solving skills while reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline.”
Quick, Easy Brain Workouts
To ensure that the brain works as best as it can, experts advise exercising it every day. Thankfully, brain workouts can be quick, easy and fun. If the seniors in your life need a good brain workout, encourage them to try:
Scrabble, word search, jumbles, crossword puzzlesand the popular daily puzzle Wordle are good ways to get the brain buzzing. A crossword puzzle, for example, helps the brain form and maintain connections and sharpen logical reasoning.
If words aren’t your senior loved one’s thing, try Sudoku – a popular game that allows seniors to practice their logical thinking process and improve their number skills.
With books,seniors will likely enjoy much more than a good story. In addition to improving memory and sharpening the decision-making process, reading can help reduce stress and enhance sleep. If they’re able to join a book club, they’ll also have social interaction – reducing the risk of isolation and loneliness.
From solitaire to poker or Go Fish to Crazy eights, card games are an excellent way to stimulate the brain. Many of these games are also great to play with kids and grandkids.
Arts and crafts
Does your senior loved one like knitting or painting? Engaging in arts and crafts not only keeps the brain active, but it keeps fingers nimble, too.
Whether playing an instrument or singing along to a favorite song, music stirs happy memories, encourages socialization and promotes overall mental health.
Learning something new is not only fun, but it can also help stimulate the brain. To figure out what new skills to try, ask your senior if there’s something they’ve always wanted to learn how to do. It can be as easy as opening a cookbook they’ve had for years and trying out a new recipe.
Companions Can Help
“While it’s very important, we know that it can be hard to motivate senior loved ones to engage in brain building activities – especially if they live alone,” Steinfatt said. “Sometimes all they need is a companion – someone who can play Scrabble, work puzzles or help them try something new. When you can’t be there, we can. Even just a couple of hours a day with our trained caregivers can make a big difference in the life of your senior loved ones.”