Many seniors experience some issues with cognitive function as they get older. Typically, this means they have trouble remembering things or lose their train of thought a little more often in conversation. While we naturally tend to slow down a little as we age (in both our bodies and minds) a drastic change in cognitive abilities can be quite alarming. Perhaps you’ve noticed some behavioural changes in your loved one; they repeat themselves often, become easily confused, or struggle to do things that didn’t used to pose much of a problem. If this is the case, you should definitely speak to a doctor right away. Many of these symptoms could be caused by underlying health issues that require medical treatment, so it’s important to get them checked out to ensure it’s not something bigger than occasional forgetfulness.
However, sometimes these subtle changes happen as a natural part of the aging process. If you notice these slight changes early on, there are things you can do to prevent cognitive impairment and keep the mind sharp as your loved ones get older.
How to Improve Memory in Seniors
The brain is very complex and is responsible for everything we do, so it’s important to keep it happy and healthy. Here are a few ways for seniors to regularly challenge their brains, to ensure their minds stay sharp as they age.
Challenge your brain
Your brain is a muscle and in order to stay in good shape, it needs a little workout every now and then! There are a few different ways you can keep your brain sharp. Start simple and change up your routine. Your brain gets used to doing things a certain way, so when you make simple changes, it has to work harder in order to accomplish a task. For example, use your non-dominant hand to eat, brush your hair, or perform other simple tasks.
You can also flex your brain muscles by doing activities that require you to focus and really activate your brain: read books and magazines, play games like poker or soduko, do crossword puzzles, or use your computer.
A study was done by the American Academy of Neurology, which focused on two groups of people between the ages of 70 and 89. One group had memory loss that had been diagnosed by doctors, while the other group had no reports of memory loss. The results of the study showed that:
- People who read, played games, did crafts, and/or played on the computer had a 30% to 50% decrease in the risk of developing memory loss.
- Those who watched more TV were 50% more likely to develop memory loss.
Move your body
We know that physical exercise is key when it comes to maintaining a healthy body. What you might not realize is that it’s just as important for your brain! The brain is responsible for every single movement we make, so it only makes sense to make sure you move every day. Go for a walk, take an exercise class for seniors, or simply make a point to stand up or move around at regular intervals throughout your day. Regular exercise can dramatically reduce your chances of developing a number of health conditions, which can all have an impact on your cognitive ability. Not only will it make you feel healthier, but exercise is a proven mood booster too.
At Bria Communities, we encourage all our residents to exercise and stay active. We offer a number of workout classes and have gym equipment available for residents to use on their own if they wish. Our residences are all located in highly walkable areas, with plenty of outdoor space, as well as parks and shops nearby. Residents often arrange their own walking groups and get out for a stroll on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, many seniors experience feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially when they live alone. When we lose that social interaction, it can have an impact on things like memory, communication, and emotions. The same study done by the American Academy of Neurology mentioned above showed that of the two groups studied, people who participated in social activities and read magazines during middle age were 40% less likely to develop memory loss than those that did not do those activities.
At Bria Communities, we offer a number of fun group activities for residents to participate in. We have regular social events every week, often with fun themes, music, and activities. There are also a number of groups such as knitting clubs, book clubs, and more, all run by the residents themselves. Meals are also enjoyed in a large shared dining room, to encourage everyone to make new friends and catch up with old ones.