Anatomically, the brain isn’t a muscle. Nonetheless, it still needs regular “exercise” to remain healthy. This is especially true for older adults already affected by age-related changes, some of which can impact cognitive capabilities like memory, comprehension, and thought processing. If you have an older loved one in your life, here are seven of the best mental exercises that tend to be beneficial for seniors.
1. Word Games
Word games are often referred to as “brainteasers” because they stimulate multiple parts of the brain in a way that enhances memory, recall, and thinking patterns and processes. Sudoku, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, and online, app-based, or traditional word searches are some of the many possibilities with word games for older adults.
Another great way to boost your loved one’s cognitive health is to hire an in-home caregiver. Harrisburg home care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers.
2. Brain Training Apps
Older adults can use easily accessible brain training apps when they’re bored or on long car rides to get a much-appreciated memory boost. Some apps, such as Elevate, present brain exercises that help with mental focus and speed along with memory. Left vs. Right: Brain Games is another popular choice because it includes tools that enhance reasoning, adaptability, awareness, precision, and other mental skills.
3. Regular Physical Exercise
Physical exercise boosts brain activity by increasing the circulation of nutrient-rich blood, which is good for aging brain cells and the nerve impulses that transmit key information. Exercise, such as walking, yoga, and water-based activities, also has the potential to help with mental function by:
- Promoting relaxation
- Strengthening the mind-body connection
- Enhancing focus and clarity
Some seniors may need help with physical exercise. If your aging loved one needs help managing everyday tasks or encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, turn to Home Care, a leading provider of at-home care. Home Care provides professional in-home caregivers around the clock to help seniors live longer, happier, and healthier lives.
4. Cooking Classes
Whether online or in person, cooking classes can be mentally beneficial for older adults because of the potential to learn how to implement and enjoy healthy cooking methods involving nutrient-rich, brain-friendly foods. The simple act of cooking also gives seniors the opportunity to hone the planning and thinking skills required to follow recipes and complete the cooking process.
The National Institutes of Health references a study suggesting vitamin D deficiencies could affect neurological systems beneficial for the brain. Gardening gives older adults a chance to get outside and soak up some vital vitamin D from the sun. Seniors can also grow and tend gardens with green leafy veggies or ginger and other spices with known brain health benefits.
6. Music-Based Activities
A UC Irvine study found music may enhance the memory of seniors living with forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s. Other studies suggest music stimulates the brain’s reward system and increases the triggering of the electrical impulses that keep all parts of the brain working well together. Older adults can stimulate their brains with music-based activities such as:
- Learning new songs
- Playing musical instruments
- Playing music-based games based on popular tunes from their generation
7. Hobbies & Crafts
Activities of this nature help older adults flex their mental muscles by keeping the brain focused and engaged. For instance, art-focused crafts enhance mental focus by drawing on the brain’s ability to create meaning and form patterns. This is also true of hobbies that might include stamp collecting, building useful things out of wood, and scrapbooking.