• November 15, 2017 /  Dementia

    10 Brain Exercises to Help Prevent Dementia

    In the past we’ve shared valuable tips on how physical exercise can help reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Now it’s time to look at working out your brain, in ways that might help prevent the development of these devastating diseases.

    You want to take care of your whole self as you get older, and that includes keeping your brain running at peak performance. Just as it’s important to get up and get moving with some daily exercise, you can’t overlook giving your mental muscles some exercises to do, too. Scientists agree that training your brain helps keep it healthy, letting it form new neuro-connections and preserving the older ones.

    Another benefit of challenging your brain each day is that you will notice any changes early on. For instance, if you find that your daily crossword has become much more challenging than in the past, it might be a good idea to mention it to your doctor. They might recommend ways to help prevent future mental deterioration, including supplements, nutritional changes, and the like.

    Common Symptoms of Cognitive Impairment

    These are some of the signs of mild cognitive impairment that could be a signal to you that it is time to see your doctor and get started right away on your mental workout:

    • Forgetting important events/dates
    • Easily distracted
    • More impulsive
    • Difficulty with abstract thinking
    • Trouble finding the right word for something
    • Lose train of thought in conversations
    • Difficulty making decisions
    • Trouble finding your way around familiar places
    • Neglecting personal nutrition and hygiene

    All of these can simply be signs of getting older, but it’s always a good idea to keep your brain in shape to help keep you sharp as you age. Don’t worry. Exercising your brain doesn’t have to feel like a return to your school days. There are plenty of games and exercises that are fun and stimulating without feeling like homework.

    10 Ways to Get Your Brain in Shape

    Puzzles

    Crossword puzzles, in addition to the many other kinds of word or number puzzles, are excellent exercises for mental stimulation. They help improve or maintain your recall abilities, and changing up from one puzzle to the next helps stimulate different areas of your brain, keeping your nerves functioning properly. They work out the part of your brain that relates to reasoning and problem solving, one of the first areas to be impacted by dementia.

    Learn Something New

    Don’t ever think that you’re too old to learn something new. There are hundreds of classes available online for free about a wide range of topics. You don’t have to be working towards a degree to take advantage of these resources. Just find a topic that you’ve always wanted to know more about and sign up. You can also sign up to learn a new language or take a cooking class. Learning new things helps improve self-esteem and memory while strengthening the connections between different parts of your brain.

    Read More Books

    Reading is a low-stress activity that offers hours of enjoyment. You are limited only by your personal preferences when it comes to books. Dust off that library card or visit your local secondhand bookstore to find a new adventure in fiction, or choose to learn something new with the plethora of non-fiction works available. Cutting back on the amount of TV you watch can also reduce your risk of dementia, so let yourself get swept up into a book series instead of a television series.

    Play with Children

    Doctors have found that adults who spend time playing with children have lower levels of stress as well as reduced blood pressure, cortisol, and heart rate. Play can also improve mood, which is an important element in keeping your brain operating at its highest level. If you have grandchildren, playing with them won’t just benefit you – it will benefit them emotionally as well!

    Exercise

    As we’ve talked about in our previous posts, regular exercise is an important part of keeping the brain healthy. The more you exercise, and the healthier you eat, the better your mental well-being will be compared to people who avoid those things.

    Grow a Green Thumb

    Gardening has been proven as an activity that helps improve mood and brain function, but no one really knows why. Perhaps it’s the probiotics in the soil, exposure to natural light, or simply the joy of seeing something grow, but gardeners have shown lower levels of stress and improvement in cognitive abilities, and an alleviation of dementia symptoms.

    Yoga

    Yoga gives you all of the benefits of exercise but with much less impact on your body. Combine yoga with meditation and you’ve got a great balance for mind-body health. It helps improve focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and increases neuroplasticity.

    Listen to Music

    Researchers have shown that the brain of a musician has better recall of large chunks of data, plus the connections between short term and long-term memory are closer than the average person’s. More studies are being done to see how music therapy can help people fight dementia.

    Hand-Eye Coordination Work

    Activities like knitting and needlework are excellent ways to keep your brain stimulated and functioning at a high level. People who have these types of hobbies have been found to recall information more easily. These activities improve concentration, and are considered a natural antidepressant!

    Play Games

    There are tons of apps you can add to your phone that are geared towards building your mental muscle. They offer a variety of games and puzzles you can do on the go. Some that you should check out include Lumosity, CleverMind, and the Brain Trainer App. These are handy to have when you’re waiting at a doctor’s office, on your commute, or even when you have a little downtime at home.

    Dementia and Alzheimer’s are a risk for any adult as they get older. Doing whatever you can to help reduce your risk of developing these diseases can be fun, stimulating, and keep you feeling like yourself for many years to come, so don’t wait. Start exercising your brain today!

    Posted by Michael Storz @ 10:07 am

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