Older Adults May Need Help to Stay Mentally Fit

You’ve probably heard the phrase “use it or lose it.” As it turns out, it’s more than just a cliché. Research confirms it’s true.

A study in Psychological Medicine found that individuals with high “brain reserve” have a 46 percent decreased risk of dementia as compared to those with low brain reserve. What is brain reserve, you ask? Well, it looks at how mentally stimulating pursuits can prevent cognitive decline. And more good news — the study pointed out that even a late-life surge in mental activity can ward off the effects of dementia.

So what are today’s seniors doing to keep mentally fi t? Many have said goodbye to traditional games such as bingo. They’re gravitating more to group activities such as Scrabble® and bridge tournaments. According to the latest studies, it all helps.

Here are some suggestions to help seniors keep their minds active.

• Video Action: Interactive video games have become popular for family members of all ages. Some games, such as Nintendo’s Brain Age, and the Wii home video-game system, may be particularly good for stimulating seniors’ minds.

• Computer Savvy Not Required: Seniors can start playing Solitaire, a variety of other computer games or joining an online bridge game.

• Organize Game Night: Board or card games offer a great avenue for mind stimulation. Encourage your senior loved one to get a few friends together to join in the fun.

• The Magic of Music: Many seniors were avid musicians in earlier years and some may still have instruments in their homes. Ask them to play you a tune or challenge them to learn an instrument.

• Tournament Fun: Bridge and Scrabble tournaments for seniors are springing up around the country. Check with the local senior center to learn of any activities in your area, or encourage your older adult to join a bridge group.

• Think Big: Large-piece jigsaw and large-type crossword and Sudoku puzzles are great pastimes for seniors who need a mind-stimulating activity when they’re alone.

• Out and About: Most communities have concerts, lectures and other pursuits that can interest seniors and their families. If your loved one is able to get out, consider activities such as these.

• In the News: Many seniors maintain their interest in politics and current events. For their next birthday (or another special date), why not renew a subscription, regular — or large print if needed, to a newspaper or popular news magazine. Or, you can organize a news-discussion group.

• Just the Two of You: When it’s just you and your senior loved one, remember there are more things you can do than just watching television. For instance, Hasbro Inc. — the largest U.S. game company — has introduced three fast versions of classic board games: Monopoly® Express, Scrabble® Express and Sorry!® Express. They don’t take long to play.

• Companionship Counts: Companionship is an important part of stimulating seniors’ minds. If your senior has no one to spend time with, consider hiring a companion — such as a Home Instead CAREGiver.

• Guided Conversations: Purchasing items that prompt topics of discussion such as Caring Cards™. This set of cards was produced by Dr. Amy Inc, a leader in caregiver wellness. Caring Cards™ features more than 50 questions on a wide range of topics to help engage seniors in meaningful conversations and keep those conversations going. Contact Home Instead Senior Care for more information.

During these winter months of limited outdoor activity, focusing on mental stimulation can produce healthy results as well as fi ll many hours with enjoyable activities.

Top Mind-Game Activities For Seniors

Based upon 17 years of experience serving thousand of clients around the world, the Home Instead Senior Care franchise network suggests the following activities as great mind –sharpening exercises for seniors:

• Scrabble®    • Bridge    • Crossword Puzzles    • Dominos    • Jigsaw Puzzles    • Word Searches

• Sudoku Puzzles    • Card Games    • Video Games

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