Mental health is just as important as physical health. As we age, our brain shows signs of ageing just like our body. Memory loss and inability to learn new things are signs of an ageing brain. But, don’t be discouraged so easily. Research shows that regular brain exercises can maintain and can increase our cognitive brain functions.
There are a wide variety of activities that seniors can engage in, in order to stimulate their brains and have fun. Such brain stimulating activities can keep aging adults alert and improve their memory.
Here are some suggestions that may help sharpen your mental skills.
- Physical Exercise: Aerobic exercises, yoga, tai chi, weight lifting etc. are stimulating for the brain and are good for the body too. Exercise improves blood circulation which results in increased flow of nutrients and oxygen through your body. It helps you focus, and imbibe and recall information. AA minimum of 20 minutes of exercise a day will do wonders for your physical and mental skills.
- Reading: It is a great exercise that kindles a person’s visual and verbal abilities. It also improves communication skills. Reading enhances imagination and hence aids creativity.
- Recall: Recalling information over a sustained period of time improves your ability to memorize things and recall them more accurately. This may also increase your ability to recall even visual information in detail. Before going to bed, try to recapitulate all the things that transpired during the day, in as much detail as you can. You will see that, with time, you will be able to recall your day in greater detail.
- Discover new things: Learn a new skill as often as you can. It can increase your brain’s processing speed, and it engages the cognitive functions of the brain. Studies have shown that by engaging the mind in demanding and novel activities over a continued period of time can improve memory in older adults. When there are so many skills that you could learn, this activity could actually be a lot of fun. Try a new musical instrument, learn to knit or embroider, become a skilled gardener, master a new language, cook something new- the options are countless.
- Use your non-dominant hand: Try eating or writing using your non-dominant hand. Even brushing your teeth using your non-dominant hand can strengthen neural connections in your brain, and can even help you grow new connections. By putting your non-dominant hand to use, you are actually teaching your brain a new skill. It also stimulates the part of the brain that is connected with your non-dominant hand.
- Structured brain games: There are many games structured to enhance memory and logical reasoning. Games like su-do-ku, crossword puzzles, math games, chess, scrabble, card games etc. are available online for free and can be accessed from your phones too.
Much like the human body, the human brain also becomes stronger if it is constantly put to use. No matter what your age is, trying new things will create new neural pathways which connect distant areas of the brain making your brain that much keener.