How to Exercise Your Brain and Prevent Memory Loss
We’ll all experience cognitive decline as we get older, but simple activities can help you stay sharp!Request an Appointment
Cognitive decline is a natural part of aging. Older adults will want to maintain a healthy lifestyle and physical exercise to improve cognitive function, but many other brain activities can also make a huge difference. You’ve probably heard about how learning a musical instrument, new skill, or even a new language can do the trick.
But, if you’re looking for more run-of-the-mill advice that you can easily implement in your day-to-day, we have you covered. Below we discuss how to exercise your brain to help prevent memory loss!
10 Brain Exercises for Older Adults
The hippocampus, the part of the brain that involves human learning and memory, is largely affected by Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and mental health conditions like stress and depression. These types of conditions can cause or result in the hippocampus shrinking.
It’s known that physical exercise improves Hippocampal activity and overall brain power, but recent studies suggest that “brain exercises” are also beneficial. Also, physical and mental exercise are both thought to incite neurogenesis, which is the birth of new neurons (new brain cells). Increased neuronal activity leads to stronger hippocampal activity.
The brain-boosting activities below can improve neuronal activity and are skills that you can build upon.
1. Make a list and test it twice
Put your memory to the test. Make a list of anything, and test your ability to remember it in 5 minutes. Then, check again in another hour to see what you still remember.
2. Draw a map of your hometown or another familiar setting
Don’t worry — this isn’t to test your art skills!
Drawing itself leads to improved memory by integrating elaborative, pictorial, and motor codes. You can activate even more parts of your brain by forcing yourself to remember specific landmarks, streets, buildings, and homes.
Try this brain training exercise after visiting a new city if you’d like an added challenge.
3. Try tactile hobbies
Some studies have proven the correlation between knitting and improved cognitive function and overall wellness! If that’s not your speed, try another hands-on activity that requires a mind and body connection, such as building models, jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, gardening, or cooking. Video games are even a great option; the more room for problem-solving, the better!
4. Use your non-dominant hand
If you’re a leftie, you may not want to use your right hand to write any holiday cards. But, using your non-dominant hand to test cognitive abilities can help strengthen neural connections. Practice writing or drawing with your opposite hand, and you’ll stimulate your brain’s cognitive and creative functions.
5. Card games
Games like Solitaire, Poker, and Bridge offer a double whammy; they improve memory and test your critical thinking skills. In fact, many are considered “cerebral sports,” as they give you the chance to execute logic, reasoning, patience, and concentration.
The tie between consistent social interaction and memory is strong. Strong connections with family members, friends, neighbors, and others are great cognitive training, i.e., you’re more likely to remember small details and improve processing speeds and working memory. A greater sense of meaning and emotional acceptance is so important for older adults as they age.
7. Avoid ennui
Today, boredom can feel like a luxury, but we advise against going long spells without stimulation. Boredom is linked to poor brain health and perceptual performance, not to mention a lower state of overall well-being.
8. Repeat aloud to someone else
When you repeat something aloud to someone else, you’re far more likely to remember it. This is obviously helpful if you need to remember or articulate specific information, but it also works when you don’t have anyone to communicate with. Thanks to their sensory and motor references, simply stating information aloud is enough to help our brains remember it.
9. Four details game
Double points for this cognitive skill game that combines socialization and a mental game! After you speak with someone, try to remember four details about that person — i.e., the color of their shirt, their weekend plans, and the name of their new job.
10. Add three minus seven
A little math can offer a lot of mental fitness. Here’s a little brain game to try: Pick any number between 1-10. Add three three times. Then, minus seven three times. What do you end up with?
Aging presents new life conditions and maintaining a healthy brain and executive function isn’t always easy. Supro Direct makes it much easier to handle what life throws at you, whether that’s cognitive or a hormone imbalance. To learn more about our concierge medicine and age management services, request an appointment with the leading primary care doctors in Greenwood, Indiana!