Today, nearly all the information we need is at our fingertips. With the push of a button we can access phone numbers, addresses, driving directions, and information from around the world. In fact, it’s estimated that we create 1.7 MB of data per person every second.
Data is so accessible that we often forget the brain is the original human supercomputer. The brain creates and manages over 100 million synapses on average – and we only use a small percentage of our brain power!
Unfortunately, aging affects the body both physically and mentally. For those with memory challenges, daily tasks can become frustrating and even dangerous. It can be heartbreaking to watch a loved one battle a cognitive condition, and caring for that person’s daily needs can become challenging. At Tribute, we specialize in memory care. Our approach integrates seven dimensions of wellness to help residents become more active and engaged both physically and mentally. Part of this approach involves neurobics, or mental exercises to help strengthen the brain and improve or maintain cognitive functions. The good news is that everyone can benefit from mental aerobics! Just as exercising your body helps you stay strong and healthy physically, giving your brain a workout helps you maintain neural pathways and protects against long-term memory conditions. Here are five simple exercises you can do at home, at work, or even in the car to keep your brain healthy and active.
Listen to Music
It’s no secret that music has a powerful effect on memory. Research has shown that music can help people with Alzheimer’s and dementia express emotions and recall certain memories.
At Tribute Senior Living, we take music to the next level through a distributed sound system, music therapy, and specialized music programming. You can experience some of these benefits at home playing your loved one’s favorite songs. Listening to music together can enhance communication and ease anxiety for both you and your loved one.
Try Something New
Whether it’s trying a new recipe, learning a foreign language, taking an online class, or picking up a new craft or hobby, trying something new can help you break out of a rut and can sharpen your mental focus. Not sure where to start? Reach out to your local library for craft kits, and head to Udemy or Masterclass to explore online learning options. Looking for exciting new cuisine? Try a subscription meal kit delivery service such as HelloFresh or Sunbasket – many offer a trial option or discount for new subscribers.
Pray or Meditate
In today’s busy world, it can be challenging to calm your mind and focus – yet that is exactly what our brain needs. Prayer and meditation do more than provide spiritual and motional guidance. Research shows that when we engage in these activities, specific areas of the brain are activated. Engaging in something as simple as daily mantras, praying the rosary, or reciting a passage of scripture can help our brains engage on a deeper level, leading to improved memory and better mental and emotional health.
Tell a Story
Before written language, storytelling was an art passed down through generations. While we have access to countless stories today through books, video, and podcasts, there is still something uniquely engaging about live storytelling.
Asking your loved one to share their stories not only preserves family history, it boosts self-esteem and engages the brain in unique ways both for the storyteller and the listener. This can also be a great way to engage grandparents and grandchildren! If you aren’t sure where to start, try this list of 25 questions – and be sure to have a pen, computer, or camera on hand to record the story!
Play a Game
Challenge your brain with a little strategy and logic. Games such as tic-tac-toe, checkers, and chess can help keep you mentally sharp. Physical games and sports, such as tennis or golf, can keep you mentally and physically fit by combining exercise with strategy. Even a simple game of catch has great benefits!
Remember, it’s never too late to exercise your brain! By taking care of your mind today, you can lay a foundation for healthy living both now and for the years to come.
To learn more about Tribute’s groundbreaking approach to memory care and assisted living, go here.