At the height of the Pandemic, when life was a bizarre, much less fun version of the movie “Groundhog Day,” people of all ages had trouble keeping track of the calendar. Now that we are back out in the world, thankfully we can once again differentiate one day from another. But for older adults, keeping the memory sharp is about much more than just knowing what day it is.
Our brain may only weigh about 3 pounds, but during our lifetime, it changes more than any other body part. Constantly altering its structures and functions, this amazing piece of engineering can show signs of decline as we age, especially in the memory department.
The good news: When memory loss is a part of the natural aging process, and not caused by an underlying neurological condition, there is much we can do to stimulate our brains and help keep them in shape. Think of these as the cerebral version of a physical workout at the gym—mental exercises to get your brain off the couch!
How to Improve Memory and Concentration
One of the best ways to test your brain mettle is to dive into the puzzle of your choice. Whether you’re spending quality time with your favorite crossword puzzle or Sudoku book or poring over a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle with family or friends, puzzles involve problem-solving, attention to detail, and searching for patterns, all of which are a great stretch for the mental muscles.
Games that focus on finding information serve two masters. They are great for flexing recall skills, while also providing social opportunities so important to the wellbeing of older adults. Grab the chessboard, trivia, or home Jeopardy game and get the wheels turning.
Put Your Cards on the Table
Whether you’re into Canasta, Bridge, or want to ante up for Poker, playing cards allow you to hone logic, reasoning, and memory skills. And of course, there is the added bonus of sitting around the table having a few laughs with friends.
Get Your Craft On
If you have a favorite craft, get to the hobby shop and start quilting, scrapbooking, crocheting, or making macrame. If you are new to crafts, this is the perfect time to learn something new. Taking up a new, cognitively challenging hobby will both invigorate the mind and provide gifts for the family.
There’s an App for That
If the question is how to stimulate your brain, look no further than your computer, iPhone or tablet. Whether you are looking to shore up your language, reasoning, attention, or memory skills, there is sure to be an app that is up to your task.
Phone a Friend
Nothing engages the brain like social interaction. Join a class, take a walk with a friend, or grab a meal with someone special and experience the joy—and cognitive benefits—of great conversation with good friends.
We know we can’t win the battle with Father Time, but with a little effort directed at challenging our minds, we might be able to give it a run for its money.