With age, mild memory loss is normal and to be expected. However, rampant forgetfulness puts your senior loved one’s health, safety, and security at risk. The following fun activities can help the brain encode, consolidate, and retrieve information.
1. Singing in Groups
Even in a senior with dementia, music memory is retained. Singing activates the brain regions where these impressions are stored. When your loved one sings a familiar song, it links the right brain hemisphere with the left. This connection unites creativity with logical thinking, aiding navigation and recall.
As the right temporal lobe recognizes melodies, it releases endorphins, hormones that confer happiness. Consequently, singing alleviates depression and lowers the stress hormone cortisol, enabling the brain to better process and summon memories.
When people join their voices in song, the cognitive benefits are multiplied. Group singing builds confidence, teamwork, communication skills, and bonding. Social connections are vital, energizing the mind.
Try to arrange singing sessions for your loved one. When family and friends gather, conduct singalongs. If your loved one is active in church, perhaps he or she can join the choir. Play videos of musicals, and encourage your loved one to sing along with the actors. While helping your loved one with daily activities, serenade each other with old-time songs.
2. Playing Board Games
When entranced by game dynamics, the brain’s prefrontal cortex gets a workout, which can help your loved one concentrate, retain information, strategize, and solve problems. Your loved one is thinking creatively and making decisions, and his or her analytical skills are building.
Being with other players promotes a sense of belonging to a group. While socializing, your loved one’s brain cells are firing, increasing communication. Word games enhance vocabulary and language skills. Rules that involve repetition assist learning. Some games exercise math skills and expand knowledge of certain subjects.
As your loved one plays board games, his or her reflexes are stimulated. The excitement of competing sparks alertness. Meanwhile, laughing is amassing endorphins, brightening your loved one’s mood. When the game is over, your loved one may feel more connected to others.
Try to incorporate board games into your loved one’s week. Among the games seniors favor are Bingo, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Chinese Checkers, Pictionary, Backgammon, Trivial Pursuit, Boggle, and Balderdash.
Caring for senior loved one with memory loss can be overwhelming. If you are the primary caregiver for a senior loved one in Huntsville, respite care is available when you need time away from your important caregiving duties. At Home Care Assistance, our respite caregivers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help your loved one manage everyday tasks in the comfort of home while you have the chance to take a much-needed break.
3. Eating Brain-Boosting Foods
Whole fruits and vegetables optimize brain function by supplying antioxidants, which are plant molecules that repair injured cells. Other foods support cognition with anti-inflammatory compounds, vitamins, enzymes, and minerals. Nutrients needed for memory are vitamins B6, B12, folate, biotin, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins C, D, and E. Here are foods to include in your loved one’s diet, along with the brain fuel and benefits they provide:
Blueberries – Vitamin C, manganese, Vitamin K, and fiber boost memory
Eggs – High-quality protein, B Vitamins, and choline spur alertness and focus
Green tea – Enzymes, catechins, polyphenols, and carotenoids vitalize the mind
Pumpkin seeds – Zinc promotes clear thinking
Rosemary herb – Carnosic acid aids remembrance, both through ingestion and inhaling the piney scent
Salmon – Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and high-quality protein boost cognitive health
Spinach – Enzymes and folic acid strengthen brain connections and chemical messengers called neurotransmitters
Turmeric – Curcumin protects cells from damage, facilitates recall, and hinders neurons from developing the abnormal proteins that cause Alzheimer’s disease
Walnuts – Unsaturated fat, iron, zinc, and calcium enhance mental clarity
Try to involve your loved one in meal planning, food shopping, and cooking. His or her contributions may make eating more meaningful and satisfying. For instance, ask your loved one to compile a grocery list. Make sure to include some brain foods he or she finds appealing.
If your loved one has favorite recipes, use them regularly. By following the instructions, he or she may recall fond memories of family meals. If possible, ask your loved one to help with meal preparation. To encourage healthy snacking, leave a bowl of fresh fruit where your loved one will see it often.
Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional home care. Huntsville, AL, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.
4. Working Puzzles
Doing puzzles strengthens short-term memory, such as recalling names, instructions, and map directions. Puzzles expand neural circuits and brain storage. The skills they hone aid mental clarity, problem-solving, and drawing conclusions. Working a puzzle also involves pattern recognition and deductive reasoning, both of which get better with practice.
Absorbed in piecing together information, your loved one may be more focused and alert. Being focused and calm may help him or her relax. Each time your loved one solves part of a puzzle, the brain releases dopamine, the hormone that enhances learning and recall. He or she may also reap a feeling of accomplishment.
Try to vary puzzle types, activating different brain regions. For example, Sudoku sharpens logical thinking, word searches build vocabulary, and jigsaws use both the right and left brain simultaneously, forging connections between them. Other puzzle options include crosswords, Rebus, sliding numbers, Picross, connect-the-dots, logic grids, Rubik’s Cube, and situation puzzles.
In 2015, Canadian researchers found that aerobic exercise markedly expands the hippocampus, the brain region involved in learning and verbal memory. The study followed 86 senior women, ages 70 to 80, living independently in Vancouver.
Three times weekly, the women engaged in a supervised outdoor walking program, for hour-long sessions. Over six months, the ladies increased their hippocampal volume, boosting their selective attention and memory. The findings were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Aerobic activity gets the heart pumping, expanding blood vessels and speeding oxygenated blood to the brain. Accelerated blood flow heightens concentration, lengthening attention span. Exercise also releases growth factors, birthing new brain cells and blood vessels.
Relaxing types of exercise such as yoga boost brain function by easing stress. Walking promotes creativity. Activities that involve balance and coordination are likewise healthy for the mind.
To help your loved one exercise regularly, encourage a pursuit he or she enjoys. Fun options include swimming, dancing, gardening, and birdwatching. Your loved one can also play outdoor games such as Horseshoes, Bocce Ball, Croquet, and Shuffleboard.
Some seniors need help participating in various activities. Huntsville home care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers. To hire a professionally trained caregiver for your elderly loved one, call Home Care Assistance at (256) 716-9940 today.