Brain needs Exercise

This is a guest post by Amanda Tradwick 

Brain Games for Your Aging Parents

Just like any other part of the body, the brain has to be exercised to stay healthy. Just like strength training can help muscles to stay strong and running can help the heart stay healthy, regular cognitive exercise can help mental function to stay sharp and to stave off memory loss and dementia. Though the effects of age and time cannot be avoided over time, performing mental exercise can help delay those effects and keep the mind healthier for a longer period of time. Here’s how brain games can help your aging parents:

Benefits

There are many benefits of brain games and other mental exercises, like learning new skills or hobbies. Here are a few of the benefits:

  • Development of new cells
  • Increased blood flow (which also brings oxygen) to keep cells healthy
  • Slowing of degeneration
  • Improved memory
  • Improved concentration
  • Strengthened communication pathways between cells

Research has shown that these benefits of brain games and other mentally stimulating activities can help delay the effects of aging, such as dementia, memory loss, or slowed mental functioning. However, these exercises cannot prevent this decline or the onset of disease that impairs mental function.

Types of Games

There are many types of games that adults can play to help improve mental functioning. Games that require problem solving, critical thinking, use of memory or logical reasoning are all beneficial. Here are some other ideas for brain games that are beneficial for the elderly:

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Sudoku
  • Chess
  • Card games such as Spades or Bridge
  • Board games such as Scrabble or Monopoly
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Logic puzzles

Many more games can be found online or in puzzle books. Look for those that present logic puzzles or mathematical challenges. The AARP has a list of brain games (http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/brain_games/?CMP=KNC-360I-GOOGLE-HEA-BRH&HBX_PK=brain_games&360cid=SI_213468091_10055950621_1) specifically designed for improving cognitive function in the elderly on their Web site.

Incorporating these games and logic puzzles into a daily routine, just like exercise, can help seniors to sharpen cognitive ability and delay the onset of aging-related mental decline. Other mentally stimulating activities such as learning a new language or socializing with friends can also provide these cognitive benefits. You can help your parents keep their mental functioning sharp by providing some of these games and opportunities, or by encouraging them to try these new activities.

About the author:
Amanda Tradwick is a grant researcher and writer for CollegeGrants.org. She has a Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Delaware, and has recently finished research on college student grants and federal nursing grants.

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