First of all, let’s start by asking ‘what are brain exercises for the elderly?’
Well, brain training exercises for the elderly can be pretty much anything that stimulates your mind. In fact, some of the best ways to give our mind a workout is through things we often take for granted, or wouldn’t imagine to have too much of an impact. For example, socialising and interacting with others is known to be among one of the best brain exercises elderly people can participate in. This helps improve a person’s cognitive ability, alongside decreasing the risk of several psychological issues. Reading is another example of something that can get the mind working through your imagination.
Often, some of the best things we can do for our brain are things we find fun. It doesn’t have to be a case of doing an intense activity all the time. Listening to music is also known to be great for the mind, as is taking up a creative hobby. Essentially, if you’re doing something that makes you feel mentally stimulated, if it takes away the boredom and provides interest, it’s probably helping your brain in ways you don’t even realise.
It’s just like how spending a day out with your loved ones can often involve exercise – such as walking or playing with your grandchildren – but you may not think of it in this way because you’re having such a good time. It all counts the same in terms of improving your well-being, perhaps more so, as doing things you enjoy can help lift your mood and of course, if you’re looking forward to something, you’re much more likely to stick at it through the long-term. So, a big part of exercising your brain is finding what you find interesting in order to keep you motivated.
There are, as well, what you might consider more traditional brain gym exercises for elderly people, which are less recreational. However, there’s no need for these to be an impediment on a person's day and even a few minutes at a time can work wonders. Some examples include recall tests, where you try to remember any number of things from songs in an album to groceries in your kitchen. You can also try to draw a map of a route you know well from memory and recall as much of that journey as possible. These are just a couple of examples. There’s countless more. You can find some more ideas on our Free brain exercises for the elderly blog post.
So why are brain training exercises for the elderly important?
It’s easy to forget that at the end of the day, your brain is a muscle. And in many ways, it acts similarly to any other muscle in your body. If you do not use it or use it very little, then over a long period of time, it will get weaker. Your cognitive ability will fall just the same as if a person who did no physical activity tried to lift a heavy object. When it comes to muscles, practise makes perfect and it’s an ongoing process.
This is especially the case as we get older. Many people after they retire can fall into a routine and that routine can not necessarily be the most mentally stimulating. When you’re out and about doing new things each day and being intellectually challenged at work or elsewhere, you often find you don’t need to make much of an effort to keep your mind in tip top shape. So, when that’s not the case, we don’t realise we need to replace that level of stimulation with something else just as interesting in order to keep our minds working in the same condition. This is exacerbated by the fact that our brains, as is the case with the rest of our body, becomes harder to train as the years roll by.
However, all it takes is a little planning to turn this situation around. By doing a few simple exercises, taking up some new hobbies and activities, we can find that our minds can dramatically improve as we progress.
And it’s not just a case of keeping your wits sharp, Brain exercises and good mental activity can help prevent a whole host of issues from memory problems to anxiety and depression. Brain exercises aren’t simply about being able to memorise certain lists easier: it’s about improving every aspect of a person’s quality of life and making sure they can enjoy everything the world has to offer to its absolute fullest. To help get things started for you, we've pulled together a list of resources where you can find these brain exercises for free.
Do we Melrose offer any brain exercises?
At Melrose Care Home, we have an ever-changing list of activities for our residents to enjoy. We create an interesting and stimulating calendar of activities every month which aims to give our residents the choice and the freedom to embark upon whichever interests they see fit.
In terms of mental stimulation, this includes music sessions and regular informative talks, as well as quizzes, word puzzles, jigsaws and mindfulness colouring. We also offer opportunities for residents to learn new skills (or continue improving the skills you have) in areas such as flower arrangement or IT. On top of this, there are also days out arranged to a variety of places and plenty of opportunities to socialise and experience new things. And of course, we have a choice of physical activities available at all levels, which will also help your mind, as extensive research has shown that your physical and mental health are inexorably tied.
This is only a brief overview of the types of things that are available, as our activities do depend on the month and what our residents want. And of course, if there’s anything a resident does want to try that is not available, then this issue can be resolved by simply asking a member of the team who will do their best to accommodate the request.