The brain is a complex organ that makes us who we are. According to the ScienceNational Geographic website, the brain is responsible for our individual personality, our memories and movements and how we make sense of the world. The brain gives us the capacity for critical thinking, judgment, artistry and language. A muscle will lose its optimum function due to lack of activity; so will the brain. The brain needs mental stimulation to stay engaged, alert and continually grow new neurons. There are a variety of ways for seniors to keep the brain functioning at optimum level.
Reading and Games
Dr. Amir Soas, of Case Western Reserve University Medical School, recommends reading as a way to flex your brain. Any thing that stimulates the brain to think will challenge the brain. Playing games such as scrabble or bingo will improve the function of the brain. According to a cognitive psychologist in England, when seniors played bingo regularly it boosted their memory and improved their hand- eye coordination.
Walking is a natural and effective way of exercising. It improves oxygenation and circulation of blood throughout the body. It helps to improve focus, concentration and abstract reasoning. Walking for 20 minutes per day also lowers the risk of stroke by 57 percent. Dr. Kristine Yaffe, reports on a study at the University of California that measured the brain function of 6,000 women over eight years. The study correlated the women’s normal activity level including stair climbing and routine walking. The most active participants showed less cognitive decline; while the women who were less active showed significant decline in their test scores.
New experiences stimulate and challenge the brain. They keep the brain alert and improve its function. Activities such as playing chess, square dancing and yoga as well as learning a foreign language are good tasks to participate in. Changing the way you do things such as brushing your teeth with your left hand if you are right handed and visa versa strengthens the brain function.
Barbara Strauch the Time’s health editor in her article “How to Train the Aging Brain” published December 2009, reports that researchers have found that the brain as it reaches middle age get better at recognizing the big picture. A brain kept in good shape can continue to build new path ways giving the individual significant ability to recognize patterns and problem solve much faster than a younger person can.