7 Ways to Help Seniors Keep a Sharp Mind

Forgetfulness can be a normal part of getting older.

Minor memory problems reflect normal changes in the structure and function of the brain, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Occasionally, we may miss a monthly payment, forget which word to use or misplace our glasses. Those can be signs of normal aging, according to the National Institute on Aging.

However, these changes can make it harder to learn new things, interfere with memory and can be a source of frustration.

Here are seven tips from to help your loved one sharpen brain function and memory.

1. Get Moderate Exercise

Regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates the heart rate can increase blood flow to the brain.

Many seniors are physically unable to take part in extended exercise sessions; however, simply walking around at least once a day can increase oxygen flow to the brain and help seniors keep a clear mind.

2. Cook Meals Together

Cooking a meal at home is good for more than your stomach. The act of cooking requires planning, adapting and discernment, which in turn gives the mind a mini workout.

3. Eat Right

Proper nutrition benefits both your body and your brain.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet will reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Help your loved one avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and focus on fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains, according to the Alzheimer’s Association .

4. Doodle, Paint or Draw

Seniors who start a crafting hobby can keep a sharp mind well into old age.

Constructing a picture frame out of popsicle sticks or forming a pot out of clay are examples of simple manual tasks that also encourages seniors to use their creative impulses.

5. Play Brain-Teaser Puzzles

Games such as Sudoku and crosswords are popular activities to pass the time at airports, but they also can serve as a foundation for senior mental sharpness. These games test one’s mathematical abilities and memory, helping older adults exercise their mental muscles.

6. Play Bridge

That’s right: Playing bridge has been proven to help seniors sharpen their minds.

Researchers have found that this mentally stimulating game has positive effects on the intellectual and social well-being of senior adults. According to a study by the University of California Berkeley, playing bridge stimulates the part of the brain that directly affects your immune system.

The researchers say that mental stimulation of this sort leads to more positive social interactions and self-esteem, which in turn decreases the risk of depression and other illnesses.

7. Get Social

Social engagement may support brain health and even delay the onset of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

If your loved one is able, help him or her stay socially active in the community. Look for book clubs, community groups, walking groups or volunteer opportunities in the neighborhood.

But a word of caution:

Does your loved one make poor judgments or decisions more frequently? Does he or she struggle to take care of monthly bills, misplace things often or lose track of the time of year?

Those may be signs of more serious memory problems. Seek the consultation of a medical professional, or learn more about these signs by clicking here.

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