Great Ways to Improve Brain Health
Games are helping seniors keep their minds fit and healthy, combatting the mental health concerns associated with getting older. Just a few minutes of ‘brain games’ each day could improve the health of our brain and improve overall psychological function.
Dementia is, perhaps, the most daunting disease associated with ageing. Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, accounting for 50-80% of dementia cases across the country, impairs behaviour, memory, and thought. Often beginning mildly, it is a condition that worsens progressively and sees seniors withdraw from activities, family and friends, and other facets of day-to-day life. This withdrawal, in turn, does nothing to assist positive mental health and can lead to a decline in both physical and psychological states.
However, if you act early, even after an initial diagnosis, there are things that can be done to combat the negative effects of dementia. If you do just a few things a day to stimulate positive neurological function, then you may be able to help train your brain to stay fit and active even after a dementia diagnosis. Below are a few simple options that you could easily fit into daily life that are believed to help. Bear in mind that these exercises are not designed to halt dementia, but rather to combat its effects and keep an individual as active and independent as possible for as long as possible.
Pursue Pleasurable Activities
One of the best things you can do for your brain is to keep it engaged in hobbies and activities that you have enjoyed in the past. This helps keep positive memories alive, fosters emotional connections, encourages self-expression, reduces anxiety and irritability, and helps you engage with life. Regardless of whether or not you have been diagnosed, or whether you are simply exercising your mind, the best place to start is in a place you like best.
Music, Puzzles and Crafts
Music, puzzles, crafts and even language have been found to stimulate the mind in an effective manner. Arts and crafts, such as knitting and painting, even organising items in order of size or colour, help develop and exercise neurological function. Games such as Sudoku, and playing music, even listening to classical music or clapping in time to a beat, are effective in helping keep the brain fit.
Engage the Senses
Alzheimer’s affects behaviour and senses, as well as memory. Activities that engage multiple parts of the brain are useful in helping keep the mind sharp. For example, to engage touch and scent you might take up gardening or baking, especially with sights and smells that are familiar, well-liked, and associated with positive experiences. You might even find an incense or perfume that reminds you or your loved ones of good times, such as pine for holidays or rosewater for spring days. Scent, researchers have found, is intrinsically linked to memory, and engaging it with the other senses has a profound influence on engaging the brain.
There are hundreds of “Brain Games” that have been designed to combat dementia and develop brain function. They can be found on mobile apps, on computers, and in tablets. Even portable game consoles, offer these kinds of features – all of which are specifically designed to encourage positive and lasting neurological function. Many of these games include mathematical activities, memory tasks, shape and colour recall and design, and even creative art projects. There is something for everyone, and it is a great, portable option that can be used safely by everyone.
Regardless of diagnosis, there are things that can be done, that researchers believe can maintain or improve brain function. Dementia is daunting, and it is something that many of us will face in our lifetime – either personally, or in someone close to us. But there are things we can do in our day-to-day life to combat the effects of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and general memory loss. Keep your mind fit and your memories could follow.
Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide