Brain Activities for SeniorsJune 24, 2022
In most cases, we broadly understand what it takes to keep ourselves healthy—regular exercise, a clean diet, and quality sleep. Each of these factors is key to a higher quality of physical and mental health. But as we age, many of us start to wonder: what are the best brain activities for seniors to keep our minds sharp?
Your cognitive health has an impact on your thinking, speaking, critical thinking, reading and writing, and memory skills. While quality exercise, diet, and sleep will all have a positive impact on your brain (or cognitive) health, there is even more you can do to keep yourself in peak health. You can even have fun doing so.
Trivia is a great way to not only stimulate your brain, but to have fun while doing so. You can find trivia games and quizzes for every subject under the sun, including quizzes on your favorite topic– be it musicals or World War II trivia. General trivia that covers an expanse of topics is a great option. You might enjoy learning a thing or two about a subject you were previously unfamiliar with.
Many local bars, restaurants, and other venues host trivia nights on a monthly (or even weekly) basis. This could be a great way to get out of the house with a group of friends or family members for a few hours and learn something new.
These days, the world of video gaming is versatile. The days of simplistic games like pong are gone (though you certainly can still find it!) and here are the days of in-depth platformers and RPGs (roleplaying games). Different types of video games can engage different parts of the brain.
For instance, games like Super Mario have been shown to improve hand-eye coordination and episodic memory. Memory games, crossword puzzles, and daily sudoku puzzles are available for download onto your smartphone. Interactive games on the Wii and X-Box connect help promote physical fitness.
Whatever piques your interest, there’s a video game for you. It may surprise you how much you can find in the app store on your phone or tablet.
Play an instrument
If you play (or used to play) an instrument, sit down and play for half an hour or so every day. It’s a great way to light up the portions of your brain focused on memory. This is especially true as you learn new pieces.
If you’ve never played an instrument, it’s not too late to learn. In one study, scientists monitored a group of seniors for six weeks as they learned to play the piano. At the end of the study, participants were able to complete tasks faster, and the connection between their brain and hand muscles was stronger.
Being so heavily focused on strategy, planning, and problem-solving skills, it’s no wonder chess is great for brain health. Chess has been shown to increase levels of focus and even IQ. Despite its stigma, chess is not as difficult to learn as many think it is.
Chess is easily accessible to anyone who wishes to play. Whether you like to play first thing in the morning or in the middle of the night, it’s available online. Many community centers have chess sets if you’d like to meet up with someone in person for a few rounds. No matter mobility concerns or skill level, anyone can play.
Reading will keep your mind stimulated for hours upon hours. Especially in a fiction novel, where the author paints a vivid picture of landscapes and characters, seniors who regularly read end up boosting their vocabulary and cognitive skills.
Audio-book services like Audible allow you to “read” without having to hold onto a book or tablet. This is ideal for people who are multi-taskers, or those who experience eye strain after long periods of reading.
Use your non-dominant hand
This is a task you can do any time of day, for any amount of time, for totally free. A few times a day, attempt brushing your teeth, writing, or eating with your non-dominant hand. It will be messy and unprecise at first, certainly, but you’re doing more for your brain than you think.
Using your non-dominant hand will strengthen neural connections and even build new ones. Similar to how your body adjusts to physical exercise, you’ll be surprised how quickly your body adapts to the changes.
While some might find solving jigsaw puzzles a boring task, it offers a great deal of brain exercise. This is another brain-training game that involves strategy and problem-solving skills. Depending on your needs, you can find smaller puzzles with large pieces or larger puzzles that take a great deal of brain power to solve.
Chances are, you may already have jigsaw puzzles laying around the house. If not, you can purchase them at just about any store you can think of– even a dollar store. In addition, many libraries also offer them for free.
Home care workers can help keep you stimulated
For many seniors, a key reason for cognitive decline is a lack of social interaction. Having an in-home care worker regularly come in is a great way to have fun conversations, and someone to partake in any of the above activities with.
On top of offering companionship, our in-home care workers can help you with personal care, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and more. Call 773-274-9262 to ask how an in-home care worker can help.
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