Sharpening Seniors' Minds
How to Help Seniors Maintain Their Minds and Memories
In the United States, approximately 40% of people over the age of 65 experience age-related memory impairment. Memory and mental health are closely connected. Helping seniors stay sharp can also improve their quality of life.
Top Strategies for Maintaining a Healthy Memory
To maintain a healthy memory, seniors must stay mentally active. That doesn't have to be taxing, though! Some strategies for maintaining a healthy memory are things seniors might already do as part of their everyday lives.
* Read and write regularly
* Play games, solve riddles, and complete puzzles
* Try learning to play an instrument or take up a new hobby
* Take a class at a community college, university, or adult education center
* Spend time in conversation and socializing
Factors Affecting the Memory
The brain is part of the body. Seniors' physical health will affect cognitive function, including memory. Pay attention to factors that affect memory like:
* Physical activity: Exercise is good for the brain! Activity promotes good circulation, so your mind gets the oxygen it needs. Plus, your brain and memory both work when you have to make coordinated motions or follow a workout routine.
* Nutrition: Brains need fuel! Research by Harvard University shows that diets high in saturated fat can inhibit memory, while healthy diets rich with fish, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are good for maintaining a healthy memory
* Sleep and Rest: A tired brain can't devote as much energy to making or storing memories. Seniors should get plenty of sleep.
Easy Everyday Brain Training
Choose a couple of these training exercises to work the brain every day:
* Do crossword puzzles
* Memorize something
* Write down one new things you've heard or learned
* Play a challenging game
* Choose a topic to research
* Take a class or listen to a lecture
* Use your non-dominant hand for a simple activity
* Practice using all of your senses
* Repeat something you've learned to someone else
Effects of Memory-Related Impairments
Normal age-related memory loss is not as dangerous as memory-related illnesses, but it can still impact a senior's quality of life. Help seniors recognize the normal effects of memory loss so they can adapt and stay safe.
Common effects of memory loss are:
* Misplacing items
* Delayed critical thinking skills
* Forgetting appointments or directions
* Needing new information repeated in order to remember it
Although age-related memory loss is common, and may not have serious side effects; memory-related illnesses like dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, can be dangerous. Learn the warning signs, like mixing up words or mood swings, and ask for help right away.