As we get older, a lot of things in the body start slowing down.
This can lead to the dreaded “senior brain,” the nickname given to a general slowing of cognitive processes that are often associated with aging. Facts become harder to remember, mental processing takes longer and overall forgetfulness starts to increase. It’s kind of unfair that after a lifetime of memories and experiences, aging can make all of those memories that much harder to access.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way! There are a number of things that seniors can do to keep their minds sharp and hold off the symptoms of senior brain. Even better, some of these activities will keep other parts of the body healthy too.
Here are just a few of the things that you and your loved ones can do to keep this mental slowdown at bay:
Fight Senior Brain with Exercise
One of the best things that seniors can do to fight senior brain is exercise.
This doesn’t have to be a high-impact or cardio-heavy workout, either. Even something as simple as a 30-minute walk each day can have a significant effect on mental health and cognition for elderly individuals.
It doesn’t just help the brain, either; that same 30-minute walk can also help control or prevent the following conditions:
- Coronary heart disease
- High cholesterol
What’s really significant here is that each one of these conditions can have a negative effect on brain health, as well. Not only does exercise help keep the mind sharp, but it also helps prevent conditions that could dull it before its time.
Play Video Games for Mental Sharpness
For years, doctors and researchers have recommended puzzles to help seniors stay sharp in their golden years. It’s great advice, and jigsaw puzzles, word searches and Sudoku books all have their place in maintaining mental alertness. There’s one other tool for keeping the mind sharp that many seniors overlook, however: Video games.
Though many may scoff at the idea, there’s a lot to be said for using video games to help keep the brain sharp. Playing video games requires hand-eye coordination, a useful skill that many elderly individuals neglect as they age. Many video games also require you to control and navigate in a three-dimensional space, resulting in players having to think about problems differently than they would in the real world.
This isn’t saying that video games should replace other forms of puzzles and brainteasers, of course. Just don’t overlook the possible benefits of video games when looking for ways to keep a loved one’s mind honed.
Create Something New and Flex Your Brain Power
The act of creation utilizes so many different parts of the brain, and accessing them regularly can help the brain stay in top condition. It doesn’t matter if someone is painting, sculpting, working with wood or making a scrapbook… any form of creative endeavor is great for the brain.
This could be a good reason to take up an old hobby again, or to pick up some new skills through a class or even a YouTube series. Seniors shouldn’t be afraid to try learning new things, either; after all, learning a new skill is yet another way to keep the brain active and in top condition.
Stay Sharp, Be Social
Social interaction is vitally important for the elderly. You’ve likely noticed how older adults who are highly social are often more mentally aware than those who are isolated. This obviously isn’t a coincidence… social interaction stimulates the brain, so the more social seniors are the more alert they tend to be.
Taking up hobbies like playing cards, playing Bingo or other situations where they interact with others on a regular basis can be great for seniors. Even taking an art class or joining a book club can have an amazing effect of staving off senior brain and keeping loved ones sharp.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy a Good Book
Speaking of book clubs, the act of reading stimulates the brain in ways that practically nothing else can. Elderly individuals who have trouble with their eyes can still enjoy the reading experience by listening to audio books as well. Though listening activates different parts of the brain than reading, the imaginative stimulation that comes from enjoying a book will help the brain stay sharp no matter how it’s done.
There are a number of other ways to keep the mind sharp as you age. Regardless of how it’s done, finding activities for seniors that stimulate the brain can add years of quality living to those golden years. If those activities can be done with loved ones surrounding them, that’s even better.