As adults age, some memory loss is natural. There are many ways to boost cognitive health as long as seniors are willing to put effort into memory maintenance. Here are a few strategies caregivers can use to help their senior loved ones stay sharp.
Encourage Regular Mental Engagement
The brain is like a muscle—it atrophies when it isn’t used. The best way to keep the memory sharp is to use it every day. When brains are challenged, cells start communicating, new neurological pathways are forged, and the brain gets a workout. If your loved one wants to stay mentally active, he or she should try learning a new skill like playing the piano or painting with watercolors. He or she can also play games and puzzles that require strategic thinking, like chess or Sudoku.
Caring for an aging adult with mental health issues can be challenging. Some seniors need occasional assistance at home, and oftentimes the family members who take care of them need time away to run errands, take a nap, go to work, or take a vacation. Des Moines respite care experts from Home Care Assistance are available on an as-needed basis, giving your family peace of mind that your loved one will remain safe and comfortable while you relax or focus on other important responsibilities.
Discourage the Belief in Old Age Stereotypes
Many seniors expect to experience memory loss as they get older. This idea is reinforced by negative depictions of seniors in media, but it isn’t inevitable. If your loved one seems pessimistic about the prospect of aging, try to counteract his or her negative thinking. Show your loved one studies about the benefits of brain-boosting games, or help him or her find a new avenue of mental stimulation. If your loved one ignores negative stereotypes about aging, the golden years are sure to be more fulfilling.
Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Des Moines home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help.
Make Mental Energy Count
Many seniors feel like they have a finite amount of mental energy. The act of finding missing keys or remembering the date of an upcoming party may leave them feeling drained. If your loved one doesn’t have to manage mundane memory issues, he or she will have more room in the brain for the important stuff. Your loved one should economize his or her mental energy by creating finely honed organizational systems. Your loved one won’t lose the keys if he or she installs a key hook next to the front door, and remembering upcoming dates won’t be a problem if a planner is used. By keeping everyday objects and information accessible, your loved one can spend more time learning new things and spending time with friends and family.
Promote the Idea of Repetition
When seniors want to memorize a new fact, name, number, or date, repetition is essential. Repetition reinforces new knowledge, allowing it to sink into the brain. Some seniors remember best when they repeat new information aloud, while others memorize things more easily if they write them down. When using repetition as a learning tool, your loved one should space out the periods of study. Brains retain information best when it’s repeated at intervals over the course of days or weeks. Your loved one can also use mnemonic devices, which usually take the form of sentences or acronyms and are a helpful way to remember lists.
Encourage Physical Exercise
While mental exercise is important for memory health, physical exercise is also essential. If your loved one spends a few hours each week going for a walk, he or she can substantially enhance the health of the hippocampus, a brain region integral to new memory formation.
For some people, cognitive decline is a natural part of aging, but a professional caregiver can help your loved one maintain a high quality of life. Families looking for top-rated Des Moines home care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. Call one of our Care Managers at (515) 264-2438 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.