If you have ever walked into a room only to forget why you were there in the first place, you have experienced firsthand the frustration that can come with memory loss. Fortunately, these “where did I put my keys?” moments are typically few and far between for healthy adults. However, seniors run the risk of experiencing more memory loss issues as they age. The risk of memory loss can increase without regular brain exercise. The saying “use it or lose it” rings true when it comes to maintaining a healthy mind as we age.
Multiple studies have shown that active brain engagement can lead to decreased memory loss or even a slowing down the process of progressive dementia. If you are currently not in the practice of making a focused daily effort to exercise your brain, here are six activities that can get you moving in the right direction:
1. Crossword puzzles
There are few things better for your mind as sitting down with an old-fashioned crossword puzzle. This activity works on word retrieval and memory, and it is relatively inexpensive. Word searches, while helpful, don’t pack the same brainy punch. Instead, stick with crossword puzzles that challenge you but don’t frustrate you enough to quit.
2. Ballroom dancing
Believe it or not, ballroom dancing is an excellent brain exercise. Not only are you learning a new skill or new steps, but you are also socializing as well as exercising your body. Even better, ballroom dancing moves often cross the midline of the body, creating new neural pathways in the process. Beginners or experts can reap the benefits of ballroom dancing, so don’t be shy! Sign up for a class at your local senior center, dance studio, or senior living community.
3. Lumosity app
If you are looking for a more technology-centered approach to mind exercise, take a moment to download the Lumosity app to your smartphone or tablet. This app offers games that are based on your personal memory level, and works many aspects of memory including spatial skills, judgment, and critical thinking. This is the perfect app to sit down with on your commute to work or with your morning cup of coffee.
4. Card games
Sitting down to play solitaire might be a good way to exercise your brain, but up the ante by adding in the socialization aspect. Join a cards tournament or regular card game group; the problem solving is excellent brain exercise, and the socialization is key to keeping your mind sharp as well.
5. New learning
Anytime you are able to learn a new skill or partake in a new hobby, you are giving your brain a workout. Catch a lecture or audit a class at a local community class, learn a new language, take a computer programming class, or try out woodworking or another new pastime. In any case, you will be getting the memory benefits along with having some fun.
6. Make new friends
Socialization is an often overlooked key to maintaining good brain health. Isolation in seniors has been linked to increased progression of dementia and other memory loss or judgment issues. Resist the urge to stay at home, alone or with a partner, for the majority of your day or week. Instead, reach out to friends or make an effort to connect with peers at your senior center or local library. Senior living communities are often excellent places to find meaningful friendships, socialization, and memory-building engagement programs that will keep your mind and body healthy.
Make a commitment to increasing your socialization and memory boosting activities. Your body and mind will thank you!