Even when seniors aren’t suffering from dementia, they still experience memory loss and cognitive decline as a normal part of the aging process. While there’s no way to stop memory loss, there are activities that can help seniors slow the progression of loss and decline. Forming new memories and recalling old memories can help seniors maintain better cognitive health for longer.
While exercise is important to everyone, seniors must get a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity each day. The exercise will help them maintain better cardiovascular health, regulate blood glucose levels more effectively, and improve circulation throughout the body. In terms of circulation, exercise will help the heart push more oxygen-rich blood to the brain. As a result, the brain will function better and new brain cells will be formed to replace dying brain cells. Seniors don’t necessarily have to engage in high-intensity exercise to achieve these benefits. Going for a walk, bicycling, or swimming will be enough to give their blood circulation a boost.
Another way that seniors can force their brains to boost cognitive functioning and create more brain cells is by challenging their minds. When they are alone, seniors should be encouraged to do crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other types of solitary games. Even playing with a deck of cards can be challenging enough to strengthen brain functions. If you have a senior loved one who spends a great deal of time alone, buy them a jigsaw puzzle. When you do visit them, bring along a board game that you can play together. As Generation X, or those born between 1965 and 1980, reach their senior years, there will be more seniors interested in video games. This is another activity that stimulates cognitive functioning and protects memory. Buying your senior loved one video games they enjoy can help them stay mentally fit.
Food therapy is a growing practice because cooking and baking certain foods can protect memory in a couple of different ways. Primarily, eating nutritious foods can give the brain the vitamins and natural compounds it needs to protect and strengthen cognitive functioning. For instance, fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids will give the brain one of its most essential building blocks. Omega-3’s strengthen memory recall, boost emotional health, and help guard against decline. Additionally, food memory therapy involves cooking and eating foods that stir memories from the past. Eating cookies that a senior baked with their mother as a child will help them recall those memories more easily. The scents of freshly baked goods or traditional family recipes can stir memories that a senior may otherwise have difficulty recalling.
More doctors are recommending meditation for their older patients due to the mental discipline that it teaches by keeping the mind focused on the inner self. This involves practice because the mind will tend to wander. By catching that mental wandering and bringing thoughts back into focus, the individual can gain better mental clarity. They can further enhance this mental discipline by focusing their thoughts on visualizing an object, animal, or place. Some research has found that meditation and visualization help to slow the aging of the brain. Studies have also concluded that regular meditation helps the brain process information more efficiently.
Seniors who frequently engage in activities that allow them to socialize with others will experience slower cognitive decline than seniors who spend most of their time alone. Additionally, engaging in new activities and meeting new people will help seniors form new, distinct memories, and that will also help to strengthen memory recall, concentration, and overall cognitive health. Look for ways to get your senior loved one involved in group activities by signing them up for yoga classes, golf lessons, or Bingo games. Find out what group activities interest them the most, and help them get more involved in those activities. If you find something they enjoy, they will be more likely to stick with it.
If memory loss and other types of cognitive decline seem more advanced than they should, take your senior loved one to see a doctor. They may be experiencing the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Obtaining a diagnosis early can help your senior loved one benefit more fully from treatment.