Our cognitive abilities drive our everyday activities. They control our perception, judgment, awareness and knowledge, all of which underlie our ability to live full lives and have meaningful interactions with others.
For seniors, maintaining these mental faculties is essential to remaining happy in the later stages of life. Some experience the loss of these abilities naturally through the progression of time, an inescapable consequence of old age. In others it could signal the onset of a disease like Alzheimer's, Huntington's disease or multiple sclerosis.
Both cases are distressing but there are things seniors, especially those in assisted living communities, can to do keep their wits sharp. The brain is a muscle, and just like all other muscles, it must be exercised so that it can keep its strength. Here are some activities seniors can do to keep their brain operating at maximum power.
Hobbies and crafts
Taking up a new hobby or craft is a great way for seniors to stimulate their minds with an activity that can be fun and engaging. There are many pursuits that can improve things like memory recall, attention to detail, hand-to-eye coordination and other mental faculties. Projects like drawing, scrapbooking, painting, photography, playing music and knitting are all easy to handle and inexpensive crafts that can be taken up. Some assisted living communities even schedule these events and encourage their residents to try them.
Cooking is another example of something that can help maintain cognitive function. A person's ability to plan, follow directions and judge when the dish is done are all tests of mental acuity, particularly when baking. When these tests are passed, the participant is rewarded with a delicious treat as a testament to their mental fortitude.
Games and puzzles
Crossword puzzles, word searches and puzzle books have been hugely popular with people of all ages for generations because of the hours of straightforward yet entrancing entertainment they provide. Solving these brainteasers can be quite challenging and require substantial mental energy. They give seniors opportunities to flex their cognitive muscles, which can help stave off numerous degenerative diseases of the brain.
Social interaction is one the most beneficial things a senior can do to retain their mental abilities. Meaningful conversations with others can provide a certain level of stimulation that things like games and cooking cannot. Daily conversations can be incredibly varied, and each one requires the use of almost every mental cognitive faculty.
People in older age sometimes experience long periods of social isolation, and there have been several studies linking this to depression, which eventually leads to decreased mental capacities like memory and concentration. Being social provides seniors with a way to engage their brains while also developing relationships with others.
Assisted living communities are great places to make and foster connections for seniors. They promote interaction amongst residents but also allow family and friends to visit, all of which can keep a person's spirits high and their neurons firing at full speed.