As people age, they become more at risk for developing dementia. However, research has shown that participating in mentally challenging leisure activities may reduce the risk of dementia in elderly people. Mental activities that require multitasking, communication, interaction, or organization offer the greatest benefits to your brain.
Being mentally engaged lowers your beta amyloid levels, a protein that forms hardened plaques in the brain. A study from the National Institute of Health found that older adults who received ten or more sessions of mental health training improved their cognitive functioning in both the short term and the long term- that is, ten years later. Specifically, nearly 75% of the participants who received reasoning training and over 70 percent of speed-trained participants could still perform tasks above their pre-trial baseline level ten years later, compared to about 62 and 49 percent of control participants.
Engage in some of the mentally challenging activities below on your own or with friends and family to test your smarts while reducing your risk of Alzheimers:
- Learn something new. You can learn a new skill, like playing an instrument, or a new foreign language. The more difficult your new talent is, the greater of an effect it will have on your brain.
- Stray from your normal routine. Whether its as simple as taking a different route home or completely rearranging the way your organize your books, switching up your habits helps your brain create new pathways.
- Practice memorization. Anything from the state capitals to the starting lineup of your favorite sports team! You can also help your children or grandchildren with anything they have to memorize for school. Rhymes and patterns strengthen your memory abilities.
- Play brain teasers. Make it a habit to complete (or at least try to complete) the daily crossword puzzle or Sudoko. Board games, chess, cards, word and number games, and more can all be an activity you do with family and friends to strengthen your mental abilities and prevent dementia. Even computer games that require active participation can help!
- Observe the 5 Ws. Take special notice of every detail of where you are: who, what, when where, and why. Holding onto these visual images will help your neurons fire.
Even though trying new things mentally can help reduce your risk of Alzheimers and dementia, many older adults already suffering from Alzheimers and dementia prefer the routine of staying in their current residence, where theyre familiar with the layout and where things are located.
By staying mentally sharp, you can reduce your risk of dementia while preparing yourself to age comfortably in your own home. If you have more questions about how we can help you age at home, please call us today.