When something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, there is a biological response to try to remove it. Inflammation can be uncomfortable, but it means that the body is starting to heal itself.
January 18, 2020
We often stress out the importance of keeping a healthy and active body as we age, but keeping an active mind is equally important too. Whenever the elderly forget where they placed an item or whenever they keep repeating a story they had just told moments ago, we’d normally dismiss it and think of it as just a “sign of aging.”
Indeed, these are signs of aging that we should not be ignoring because this may pose a serious problem in the future. Our mental processing declines with age that is why memory loss has become one of the most common illnesses in elderly people.
Moreover, the brain is responsible for regulating our emotions as well. When the brain becomes more inactive as we get older, this may affect our mood, and in turn triggering symptoms of depression in older adults, particularly.1 Therefore, it is essential to boost brain activity especially for the elderly.
Fortunately, there are fun activities for the elderly to exercise the mind! We have listed down some games and activities senior citizens can engage in to stay sharp even in their old age and reduce their risk of getting a mental aging disease.
Challenging the elderly in puzzle games is effective in keeping the brain buzzing. Studies have shown that solving puzzles is both mentally-stimulating and therapeutic. Plus, this activity can easily fit into a person’s daily routine. It does not matter if they answer the problems correctly; by simply making an effort in solving the puzzle can make a big difference2.
There are many types of puzzles they can try, such as word puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, or logic puzzles. Even better, with technology and internet becoming available to the public, it will be good to teach the elderly how to use gadgets so they can easily access mobile and online games. Sample games they usually like are crossword puzzles and Sudoku.
Board games are a great brain activity for senior citizens since these involve critical thinking and strategy development. This is especially helpful to older adults who have trouble with concentration.3Some of the board games they are familiar with are chess, scrabble, monopoly and mahjong. These do not just keep the brain active, but these also allow them to interact with other people and have a good time. 4
Who would have thought our favorite pastime activities can actually be beneficial for our mental health? We often overlook them since they feel like a normal part of our routine, but these activities can also stimulate the creative part of our brain. It can be anything that our elderly loved one enjoys; cooking, gardening, knitting and so much more!5 So, we should encourage senior citizens to either keep up their hobbies or learn a new one. It is never too late to learn something new, after all.
Music is inarguably a powerful means of stimulating emotions, alertness and the memory, as well as improving attention.2 They can learn the lyrics, practice singing them, and even dance to it, preferably with their loved ones. They can also learn how to play an instrument or just simply listen to their favorite music on the radio. We all tend to associate songs or tunes with our experiences in life, so whenever we hear a particular song, we’d feel like replaying the events in that moment in our head as if we are watching a film. Music has also a calming effect on the elderly, thus reducing the risk of depression in senior citizens.5
Reading, or listening to someone read aloud to them, helps a lot in improving an elderly’s brain function and mood. It is a great mind workout and provides them a sense of calmness.2 Reading is not only limited to fiction and non-fiction books. It would help a lot if they read a variety of genres and materials, such as picture books. This exercise keeps the brain active, for it lets the brain keep processing and storing the words and images the eyes see.3 Moreover, it will be much better if they have someone to read with, just like their grandchildren.
Writing exercises are found to help boost the memory and concentration of the elderly. It could be anything; a daily account journal, stories, poems or even grocery lists. According to studies, writing things down helps us remember important information because as we write notes, we take time in processing every data we receive.5
On another note, they still cannot avoid forgetting a few minor details. And that is one other reason for note-taking; they can always take a look at their notes for recall. This action alone can already help with exercising their mind.2
It is still important to note that the efficacy of these methods may vary depending on the senior citizen’s condition and interests. But to reflect better results, our elderly loved ones need to practice a healthy lifestyle as well. These activities will be more effective with a healthy diet, regular social interaction and intake of the right vitamins for nerves, such as vitamin B supplements.6
It is found that some of the common causes of memory loss are vitamin B1 deficiency and vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B1 or thiamine is dubbed as the “anti-stress vitamin” because it helps improve the body’s capability to endure stress and depression, which often leads to memory loss.7
Meanwhile, vitamin B12 or cobalamin has an important role in protecting and maintaining healthy nerve cells. Older people find it harder to absorb B vitamins, making them more prone to brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.8 For this reason, doctors often recommend the elderly vitamin B-complex supplements to help boost brain performance.
Of course, this does not mean these brain-boosting activities are only for the elderly. It is for everyone. It is best to start keeping the mind active as early as now so we can prevent having memory-related problems when we get older.
1 Unforgettable Trading LTD. (2019). What’s causing your memory loss?.https://www.unforgettable.org/blog/whats-causing-your-memory-loss/
2 Comfort Home Care. (2019). Top 7 Mental Exercises for the Elderly.https://www.choosecomforthome.com/elderly-mental-exercises/
3 Super Carers. (2017). Brain Games for the Elderly That Improve Mental Health and Memory.
4 Capital Senior Living. Seniors Definitely Won’t Be Bored With These Board Games That Also Offer Health Benefits.https://www.capitalsenior.com/blog/senior-citizens-board-games-health-benefits/
5 Lexington Square. (2017). 9 Stimulating Brain Exercises for Seniors.
6 On Health. (2004). Vitamins & Minerals to Boost Brainpower.
7 Organic Facts. (2019). 11 Impressive Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Benefits.
8 National Care Planning Council. (2018). Vitamin B12 and Aging.