5 Brain Health Tips for Seniors

From remembering names of friends from long ago, to completing today’s crossword puzzle, your brain health plays a big role in quality of life as you age. No one enjoys not being able to recall details of the day, or struggling to find the words you want to speak. For seniors, brain health can mean all the difference day in and day out.

Our bodies might break down, but if we still have our brain – we can enjoy life and family and social experiences for decades. It’s when we lose our mental acuity that people really seem to think we are ‘old’ or ‘out of touch’. So tuning in with our thinker becomes vital to ensuring brain health as we age.

For seniors, brain health is not something that just takes care of itself – there are ways to keep your brain healthy, just like exercising your body keeps your muscles healthy. Here are a few brain health tips that can keep your mind sharp and your soul happy.

1. Play Games and Video Games

If chess is too challenging –as it can be for many of us—try checkers, word puzzlers, and card games to hone your mental savvy. If you have a tablet or PC, playing computer games that require memory and strategy to win can help improve brain health as you age. Research with elderly adults has also revealed that video games that require full body movement can improve emotional and physical well-being of elderly persons, in addition to motivating individuals to maintain a basic level of activity. Practice your balance with interactive digital games like bowling and tennis.

2. Stay Social

Isolation can be one of the most unpleasant experiences for any individual – but especially for the elderly. Engaging in conversation exercises the language processing parts of our brain. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, regular participation in social settings can maintain your brain health.

3. Adopt a Pet

There’s no equal to Fido’s ability to provide companionship, affection, and psychosocial stimulus for the elderly. The joy and delight that animals can bring to seniors can improve brain health by stimulating the pleasure centers of the brain, and stimulate serotonin – the feel-good chemical—in our brain.

4. Stay Active

Exercise increases blood flow to all areas of the body, including the brain, which is vital for maintaining brain health as you age. Research shows just moderate physical activity about 3 times per week was enough to stave off brain impairment for 2 years. The types of exercise that were included were walking, hiking, bicycling, swimming, gardening, or other types of exercise. We think that chasing around after grandchildren can also count—not to mention how much fun it is!

5. Find a Club or Hobby Group to Join

Whether it’s a book club, and gardening venture, quilting or cards, becoming a member of a group can give you something to look forward to during the month. Many schools will allow the grandparents to read books to classroom children, and volunteering can give seniors a sense of purpose and contribution to society. To find a senior center, visit ElderCare here for a list of providers.

 

References:

Baecker, R.M., Shim, N., Tonon, K., Pandeliev, V., Birnholtz, J., Stern, Y., Steinerman, J.R., and Moffatt, K. ‘Serious’ online gaming environments to enhance brain fitness in senior citizens. Gerontechnology 9, 2 (2010), 190.

Ryder EL Pets and the elderly. A social work perspective.The Veterinary Clinics of North America. Small Animal Practice [1985, 15(2):333-343] (PMID:3872514)

Etgen T, Sander D, Huntgeburth U, Poppert H, Förstl H, Bickel H. Physical Activity and Incident Cognitive Impairment in Elderly Persons: The INVADE Study. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(2):186-193. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.498.

https://www.ncoa.org/national-institute-of-senior-centers/join-nisc/

SHARE
Previous articleAssessing Senior Diabetes Risk
Next articleAlcohol Use and Older Adults
Silver Team
Our team of dietitians, chefs and fitness experts love to share helpful information and tips to make living your best life as easy as possible. We stand for longer and healthier living through what we eat and how we live.