There are few experiences more frightening in the lives of seniors than the slow deterioration of the brain. Perhaps just as frightening—maybe even more so—is the fact that even the best and most accomplished doctors and scientists still don’t fully understand what causes the decline of the brain’s cognitive abilities.
But here’s what we do know for sure about brain health in seniors: Keeping your brain strong, healthy, and in regular use has been proven to significantly slow the approach of afflictions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. We also know there are many specific activities which, when practiced with regularity as we age, can significantly help slow the process of cognitive deterioration.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that you’re never too young—or too old, for that matter—to spend time on brain-exercising activities, or other activities that have been proven to keep the brain sharp. The following are some of the most popular and useful diversions that are known to increase brain health in seniors.
Playing Crossword Puzzles and Brain-Teaser Games
It’s practically become a cliché to suggest that doing crossword puzzles on a regular basis can help keep brain tissue strong and cognitive ability high. But there’s a good reason for that: Neurological studies have shown that playing games that rely on memory, decision making and creativity can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Games like Sudoku have been proven helpful, as have board games and even jigsaw puzzles. Neuroscientists at the University of California, San Francisco have even been looking at the possibility that various video games may be beneficial in improving seniors’ cognitive skills.
Learn to Play an Instrument
Scientific studies have recently relayed the finding that regularly practicing a musical instrument can strengthen various parts of the brain in older adults—specifically the areas that control hearing and memory. Of course, being disciplined enough to spend an hour a day practicing the instrument of your choice for four months—the length of time suggested in the study—isn’t easy. That’s why your best bet might involve signing up for a continuing education class at a local university or community college, or to consider joining a social group of amateur musicians; ask for suggestions or check the bulletin board at local music and instrument shops.
Reintroduce Yourself to the Habit of Reading
We’re still not entirely sure why the simple act of reading increases the strength of the brain as much as it does. But a study conducted through the aging department of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic showed that when book reading is joined with various other cognitive activities, a senior’s chances of developing dementia are reduced by half.
Naturally, reading books and articles about subjects that interest you is a wise move, as that’s a clever way to ensure you’ll keep up the habit. But choosing books from time to time that cover subjects you wouldn’t normally read about can be good for the brain, too, as it’ll force you to think critically in innovative ways.
Make an Honest Effort to Meet New People and Make New Friends
It’s easy to become less and less social as we age, and to find comfort instead by ourselves, perhaps in front of the living room TV. But according to gerontological researchers, the simple act of spending quality time with friends, and taking steps to make new friends, can be a key component in the fight to keep our aging brains as strong and healthy as that of a much younger person.
And if you do manage to develop new relationships, do your best to hang onto your most special new companions. According to the Yale Medical Center, there’s a good chance you’ll live longer if you socialize regularly and maintain close, meaningful friendships.
At Pennsylvania Stair Lifts, we recognize that even people with the most active minds might still have mobility issues. That’s why we’re dedicated to helping seniors age in place with the help of our stair lifts, platform lifts and other mobility products. Contact us today to learn more.