Keeping sharp is hard to do, especially as you get older. We have a sudden decrease in our ability to learn at the ages of 5, 25, and 40.
But, you don’t need to lose your brain. Things like mind puzzles and memory games designed for adults can keep you sharp, fit, and witty.
2 Ways To Go About It
- Computerized Games
If you have a computer and are comfortable using it, there are thousands of games online that can help you building your skills. Many of these are age appropriate and can even be tailored for a specific year you want to remember.
When it comes to choice and customization, computer games can’t be beat. The down side: you need a computer. Plus, some of the research is showing that learn by computer does not produce as many neuro connections or is conducive to extensive long-term memory.
- Good, Old Pen & Paper
Puzzle books, like crossword and find the word, reached over $100 million in sales last year. People still enjoy these books. For good reason: they are easily portable, encourage you to expand your memory, and recognize patterns. These are essential skills for everyone.
Some of the latest researching in toddler brain building is showing that learning to recognize patterns and learning to spell works early significantly improves brain development. Using this data, researchers for Alzheimer’s and dementia encourage the people to do simple skill building exercise and found most people can at least slow the progression of these diseases.
The 12 Activities
- Painting, Making Music, & Creative Arts
These brain boosters are leading in fun activities and mental gymnastics. They pair the ability to problem solve with dexterity exercises. Creative moments utilize more of our brains than simple learning exercises.
In a study of over 1,000 musicians, brain activity was monitored during rest, cognitive exercises, and when playing their instrument. It showed that at rest and during the cognitive exercises, brain activity was limited to certain areas and maintained a low level of activity. However, when playing music, the brain lit up in all areas and synapses fired at rates hundreds of times more than resting. The activity continued for as many as 12 hours after the musician stopped playing.
- Crossword puzzles
While cliché, these games stimulate problem-solving skills. They help recall memory and stimulate word association. This recall can reduce that tip-of-the-tongue moment when an elusive word doesn’t quite get out. Word based board games, such as scrabble also stimulate this skill.
Books, newspapers, and magazines are the best way to encourage your imagination and expand your ability to make decisions. Just don’t fall into the habit of complaining about what you read. Complainers shrink their brain potential. Speaking positive about a book or news article makes you focus on the good, which can lead to better recall and social interactions.
Many seniors are deficient in vitamin D, mainly because they spend the vast majority of time indoors. Gardening is an easy way to get into the sun, our best source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary to balance brain hormones. As a bonus, the act of planning out a garden, cultivating the soil, and growing plants is a calming activity. The methodical ways people garden also stimulate the brain to remember facts and figures and provide decision making processes.
While not a ‘how to stimulate your brain’ first thought, it’s incredible effective. Exercise is central to memory reinforcement at all ages. Many schools and pre-schools are incorporating physical activity into the whole learning day, not just recess. They find kids are more focused, eager to learn, and can recall information better.
Exercise not only helps the brain, it helps your body. The more you move your body, the more nutrients, blood, and oxygen move through your body. Exercise also helps reduce sugars and cortisol: both implicated for worsening Alzheimer’s and dementia. Your physical fitness program is as important as your brain fitness program.
- Cooking or Baking
The ability to follow a recipe requires time, planning, measuring, and discernment. Baking is actually better because it requires a stricter adherence to the recipe and much more decision making. Simply telling when the cookies are turning brown takes lots of mental power. Some people equate baking with some of the best cognitive games.
- Spend Time With The Grandkids
Taking an interest in your grandchildren can stimulate your own brain. Help them with their homework. It’s a new experience for them and a refresher for you. Tell stories about the past and keep your memories fresh. Plus, the activity with them will help keep you healthy!
- Board Games
Any board game will help you out, but games that include counting, spelling, and decision-making are the best. They increase your fun, relaxation, community and mental abilities.
- Learn A New Language
It’s hard to learn a language at any age, but it gets worse as you go up. Setting a goal to visit a foreign country and learning the basics of language can help. While no study on this particular skill has been done, antidotal evidence has shown seniors can nearly stop the aging process in preparation for a trip, especially if they need to learn a language.
- Social Activities
Frequent gatherings allow people to get to know other people. This stimulates the empathy and learning centers of our brain and our discernment abilities. It also provides us with the situations that encourage feel-good hormones and those allow the brain to develop long-term memories.
- Online Games
On the AARP website, there’s are dozens of senior brain games. Many of them are designed to help enhance memory. A quick search on other sites will show you millions of games. Your computer may hold the key to retaining brain function. If you do this method, brain games should become a regular habit.
- Phone Apps
If you have a smart phone, there are thousands of apps to boost your memory. They can be played in just minutes per day and most cost absolutely nothing. To supplement your memory, there are also many apps that you can use to remember the groceries or different birthdays!
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When you are looking how to increase your brain power, it comes down to what you are willing to do and will do consistently. No one technique will work for everyone. As long as you keep active mentally, you can retain your function. But, once you let it slip, it’s harder to get back.
Keep it fun, keep it active, keep it going!
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