As the body begins to age we see plenty of changes in our physical appearance. It might be grey hair, deeper wrinkles or dark circles around the eyes, in fact the chances are it’ll be all that and more. But what about the less visible signs of aging?
Here at Helpd we’ve been thinking about changes that aren’t as readily obvious, such as the decline of brain function. While we may not be able to prevent ourselves from developing a type of dementia or other condition, we can certainly exercise our brains. The best thing is, it’s easy to do, doesn’t require a gym membership and you can do most of it in your front room.
In this article, we share a few activities for you, or for a loved one, to help keep the brain active and engaged in later life.
Completing a visual puzzle such as a jigsaw isn’t just satisfying, it is an important way of practicing and retaining something called Visuospatial Cognition. Visuospatial Cognition helps us to make visual sense of the world around us providing things like depth perception and spatial awareness. It shouldn’t matter if it’s 20-piece or a 200-piece jigsaw, it simply needs to be enjoyable, challenge your brain, and realistic to complete. There are plenty of jigsaw puzzles available online for all abilities.
Reminiscence Therapy is a wonderful, engaging way to look back on memories. There are a wide variety of props or videos you can use to engage your loved one, but it can be as simple as finding an old photo album to look at and talk about. By reconnecting with times past we unlock old memories that keep the brain active and firing. Studies show that reminiscing has a positive impact on well-being, particularly for those living with a form of dementia. There is plenty of information available to help you with reminiscence.
Yes, believe it or not, a simple chat does keep our mind active. Studies show that those who connect with others generally perform better on cognitive skill tests. This is because when we engage in conversation our brain is processing the information whilst deciding how to respond, thus providing plenty of mental stimulation. If you have a loved one who is isolated, you might like to explore ways to help them engage in conversation. AgeUK runs a wonderful befriending service. The more we socialise the better we feel, so do visit loved ones as often as you can.
Getting stuck into a good book can enhance creativity and improve brain function. Some studies suggest that by reading fiction we are flexing our imagination through visualisation, helping our brain to stay active and healthy. If a good book may seem too much of a challenge, try out an audiobook or a good play on the radio.
Did you know that meditating daily can help your brains ability to process information? It will also promote feelings of calm as well as reducing stress and anxiety. For more information on meditation check out this useful guide.
When it comes to the mind, experts recognise the importance of exercising the mind just as we would the body. Whilst it is unlikely to prevent dementia or other conditions, it will certainly keep your brain active and engaged.
If you have tried and enjoyed any of these activities, or would like any more information on keeping your brain active in later life then please call a member of the Helpd Team on 0118 449 2373.