With more of us spending time at home than ever before, it’s only natural for boredom to creep in, especially for seniors, who are especially prone to loneliness, depression, and memory loss. The good news is that there are some great ways to keep older minds sharp and mentally fit. Research has even shown that some brain-building activities can even reverse memory loss and reduce depression. Read on for ideas, brain benefits, and more!
Take a class
While seniors may be more comfortable with an in-person classroom setting, the global pandemic has moved more classes online than ever before. The good news is that many colleges also offer reduced or free tuition to seniors, so this option is definitely worth looking into.
For seniors who need transportation once in-person classes resume or help with navigating the online curriculum, a home health care agency can help!
Read (or listen)
Reading has always been a wonderful way to engage the mind and promote concentration, imagination, and mental prowess. Libraries, second-hand books, and internet book sites offer great choices for providing physical copies of books by mail or electronically.
For seniors whose eyesight isn’t what it once was, there are many options available for audiobooks, podcasts, and informational lectures to keep the mind sharp and engaged.
Keep in mind that technology can be challenging for seniors, so if you or your loved one has the benefit of home healthcare, be sure to mention your needs to your caregiver, as he or she will likely be happy to help.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Audible, part of Amazon, offers thousands of titles as audiobooks. They offer a free 30-day trial and a membership subscription fee is charged every month after that.
- Podcast apps are a fairly simple and straightforward way to listen to podcasts about a variety of topics. From news to literature to humor, options abound. If you or your loved one has a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or smart TV, it’s a simple matter of installing the app and searching for what you’d like to listen to. If you need help with this, here is a simple guide to get you started.
- The National Library Service offers free braille and audiobooks for people with “temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding the printed page”.
Puzzles and games
For seniors who enjoy puzzles and playing games, the options are virtually limitless. Whether playing online or with a trusted caregiver at home. Even a few minutes per day spent doing crossword puzzles, sudoku, or jigsaw puzzles can benefit the brain.
Additional ideas include:
Listening to music has many mental and psychological benefits, including boosting wellbeing and lowering stress. If you or your loved one is musically-inclined, why not try out a new instrument (or pick up the one you’ve played for years more frequently). These days, you can take lessons online, learn through YouTube videos, or use an app for sheet music, instruction, feedback, and tuning.
Arts and crafts
Creating art or craftwork is a great way for seniors to be inventive with the added benefit of helping to maintain hand and finger dexterity. The best part? Arts and crafts don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Brainstorm some ideas that you or your loved one will enjoy, and then use a list like this one to get organized and create!
Do you have in-home senior care? All the better! Your caregiver can help you get set up and keep you company while you create.
Another great way to give the brain a boost and improve manual dexterity is by writing. Whether you journal, create calligraphy or work on your novel or short story, writing is a great way to process emotions, be creative, and engage the mind.
Keep in mind that writing by hand is best for boosting certain areas of the brain involved in thinking, language, and memory, so put the keyboard aside for a while and pick up a pen or pencil.
Get quality sleep
Sleep is very important for overall brain health. Unfortunately, as we age, we tend to sleep less, and sleep quality declines. This can be the result of aches and pains, mental health issues, or general aging, but whatever the cause, there are some things you can do to make sure you’re getting the best sleep possible.
- Avoid watching TV or staring at a tablet or smartphone for at least two hours before bed. Bluelight (a type of light our brains associate with wakefulness) can suppress the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone necessary for sleep.
- Go to bed earlier. If you need to adjust your bedtime to match when you start to feel tired, by all means, do so, even if it means going to bed earlier. Your body (and brain!) will thank you.
- Create a calming bedtime routine. Take a bath, meditate, dim the lights, breathe deeply, or listen to music to help you relax before bed.
Changes in memory and cognitive function happen normally with aging, but with a little effort, you can help reduce the effects and live a healthier, mentally active life.