Like most parts of the body, the human brain changes as a person ages.
The brain volume shrinks while some nerve cells also shrink or lose connections with other cells. Blood flow can also begin to slow down. These changes may have reduced some cognitive functions in your elderly parent. And while all changes cannot be avoided, the brain can be exercised to help stay in shape, also like most other parts of the body. Here are some great activities for your parent to try to add to her daily routines.
1. Jigsaw Puzzles
Putting together a puzzle of her favorite image is a great way for your elderly parent to keep her brain actively engaged and working out. Looking at pieces and determining where they fit is almost like mental jumping jacks, engaging different parts of the mind. Have your home care provider help your parent set up a well-lit area for her next puzzle challenge.
2. Card Games
Playing card games is a great way to help build memory and thinking skills. Whether your parent plays a game of solitaire by herself or recruits her home care provider to join her in a game of bridge, her mind will get a workout.
3. Vocabulary Builders
Many people don’t think about building vocabulary once their school days are complete, but learning a new word a day (and then using it) can increase vocabulary and stimulate the brain. Your parent can go old school and simply use her dictionary each day to discover a new word or she can go to websites like dictionary.com and check out the word of the day. You and her home care provider can help her remember words by asking her to say a sentence each day with her new word.
4. Dance Class
While dancing is, of course, a great physical exercise, learning a new dance also engages the brain. Have your parent watch videos of new dance moves to learn something new. His brain will be engaged in remembering while his feet are moving him across the room. For a little extra fun, have your parent recruit a friend to learn the same dance. Once they can gather together again safely, they can show off their new moves to each other.
Following a recipe, prepping ingredients, measuring correct amounts, and even smelling items baking, all engage the brain in one way or another. Activities that use all your parent’s senses at one time mean the brain is getting a cross-brain type of workout. If baking is something your parent currently struggles with, have someone in her safe circle, such as a family member or her home care provider, help her with her baking project.
Teaching someone about a skill she has will engage your parent’s brain by requiring her to explain a new concept to someone as well as learn how to correct mistakes she may have made while learning. It often requires using memory and motor function at the same time.
Adding mental fitness activities into your elderly parent’s daily routine along with physical fitness activities will keep her brain and her body in great shape for years to come.