Nine Ways to Help Seniors Take Care of Their BrainsNovember 16, 2020
Anyone caring for seniors knows the difficulty of seeing a loved one or family member in cognitive decline. That’s why elderly care should have a component of mental or cognitive stimulation. Studies suggest that mental activities can have an impact on holding off cognitive impairment. Our home care providers incorporate brain games and activities into our in-home care services, and also provide important social interaction and companionship. Many of the suggestions below overlap, but all of them have the same goal; keeping elderly loved ones mentally sharp and healthy.
1. Elderly Care: Mind Your Health for the Health of Your Mind
Keeping healthy physically can go a long way toward maintaining brain health. Experts say seniors with or without a personal caregiver should:
- Eat a healthy diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Get regular health screenings and manage chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Stop smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
- Get enough sleep every night.
Talk to your medical provider about specific exercises or dietary changes you can make to improve brain health, and always follow your provider’s instructions with regard to medications.
2. Word Games Can Help Seniors Focus
A recent study suggests there is a connection between playing word games and better cognitive function among seniors. Competitive games like Scrabble® or Boggle® not only provide those benefits, but also provide social interaction. An in-home caregiver playing these games is a great way for seniors to stay mentally engaged. But solo games like crossword puzzles and even word searches can provide entertainment and stimulation. Large print crossword puzzle and word search games are available many places, including grocery and dollar stores, and are inexpensive.
3. Doing the Math: Number Games for Elderly Companion Care
The brain has a specific area for numbers and math. Games involving numbers don’t have to use complicated math to have benefits in elderly care. They can be as simple as bingo, card games like War, or simple math games like shut-the-box. The mental stimulation provided by these kinds of activities is different than that of other activities, and will help keep that part of your brain sharp.
4. Putting the Pieces Together: Jigsaw Puzzles in Senior Care Help
Jigsaw puzzles are an especially valuable tool in elderly care because they require patience, mental acuity and some limited manual dexterity, all of which are valuable in keeping your brain active. It’s not necessary to take weeks and clutter your dining room table; even a small puzzle designed for kids can provide a short-term challenge for seniors that helps improve focus. And if you have visitors such as grandchildren over, you can work on a puzzle together.
5. Go Digital: Tablet/iPad Games for Elderly Care
Many elderly people have begun to use tablets or smartphones as part of their daily lives. These devices can aid with many of the games or activities mentioned above. Caregivers in home services can provide technology assistance to help set up or maintain these devices. A few types of apps that are available include:
- Word games, such as WordScapes, Words with Friends and WordBrain
- Number games, like Sudoku or 2048
- Cognitive training apps, such as Lumosity and Elevate
Many of these apps are free or very low cost, and can have the same benefits as their physical counterparts like Scrabble or crossword puzzles. As an added benefit, many of these games allow you to play with friends or family members online, and the chat functions within the game are a good way to keep in touch.
6. Craft a Strategy: Hobbies in Home Care
Whether it’s knitting a scarf, creating a scrapbook of memories, or taking up photography, a hobby is a great way to stay mentally sharp and focused as you age. Whether it’s an old hobby you’ve done for years or something brand new, hobbies can make a difference in your brain health. Taking a class and learning a new skill can benefit your brain health beyond the skill itself. Volunteering for a church or civic organization will increase social interaction, and stimulate mental activity. And if that new hobby has a physical component, like taking a dance class, the physical benefits speak for themselves. As an added bonus, that scarf you knit or that scrapbook you create will make a great gift.
7. Stay in Touch: Social Interaction is Vital for Seniors at Home
Seniors who choose to live at home can become isolated, and feelings of isolation can lead to poor cognitive function. A great reason to have an in-home caregiver is to provide companionship and social interaction. But keeping regular social interactions is also important, whether in person, on the phone, or by video chat. Interacting with others also allows those caring for seniors to check in to make sure their loved one is doing okay. Sometimes, however, checking in every day isn’t feasible, especially for those taking care of both young children and caring for an elderly relative. Our home care aides can provide the peace of mind of seeing your loved one in person, and getting to know how their situation and what help they need.
8. Physical, Mental and Spiritual: Using Yoga When Caring for Seniors
The physical benefits of yoga are well documented, but it can also be useful mentally as well. Focus and mindfulness are two of the widely known benefits of yoga, and that can lead to better mental outcomes as well. You don’t need special clothing or equipment, and there are many free videos online that can guide a yoga practice. Those with mobility issues can do yoga while seated, and those who are more physically capable can find workouts that will accommodate all different levels of fitness and mobility.
9. Putting it All Together: In Home Support For Elderly Should Include Cognitive Training
Cognitive training is a form of treatment that relies on guided practice and trains specific cognitive functions like memory and problem solving. Studies show that a formal cognitive training program can have long term benefits to senior care. Programs like Lumosity or AARP’s Staying Sharp can provide benefits of cognitive training at low or no cost.
Home Care Powered by AUAF- Our In-Home Care Aides Are Here To Help
Our in-home care providers can help your elderly loved ones stay mentally sharp and engaged with all the strategies mentioned above and more. Whether it’s companionship, help with technology, or puzzles, games and activities, our home care providers can provide the care you and your love ones need. Find out more by calling us at 877-947-2685 or contacting us online to see how our home care is the answer to your needs for senior help.
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