Ageing comes with a lot of changes. The youth like energy and enthusiasm is replaced with fatigue. The body’s physical structure changes and this creates special needs for Seniors. And just like many Seniors rely on electric wheelchairs to get through their day-to-day movement needs, it is also necessary for them to take care of their mental health.
Old age can be a bit lonely and trigger negative thoughts and anxiety. Moreover, brain activities can slow down leading to memory related issues. In order to ensure that you or someone you care for, can have healthy ageing, you can try these exercises for stronger brain functions:
One of the oldest board games and the most intellectually challenging one is the game of Chess. Since the 17th century, chess has been a popular sport amongst the royals. Chess is a game of strategies and requires focus, creativity, and planning. How can you protect the Queen? Which pawn should you move? How can you surround the King for a checkmate? Searching for answers to these questions enables brain activity and improved cognitive ability. This is one game that people of all ages enjoy, especially seniors since it keeps them quite engaged.
This is an interesting exercise. For 1 day every week give up your dominant hand and switch it with your non-dominant hand to undertake the basic chores of the day. For instance, if you are a right-handed person, then use your left hand for brushing, combing, eating, etc. As weird as it sounds, this is a great exercise to strengthen motor responses. This improves your brain and hand coordination which can help in increasing concentration.
Memory is one thing that gets the most affected as age increases. But it is not necessary that old age always has to trigger memory loss. Rather if seniors practice memory exercises regularly, it can help them get a long way with a strong memory. One good way to do that is the recall game. Create a list of items (books, names, series, places, etc.). You can start with 10 and increase the number of items as you go ahead. Jot these items on paper. Now try to recall them out loud after 30 minutes. Increase the time duration to increase the difficulty level.
In Shakespeare’s words “Old age is second childishness”. And what can be better to train and entertain a child than puzzles? Puzzles of all kinds are great means to induce problem-solving abilities, strategizing, and coordination. Jigsaw puzzles, word search puzzles, and crosswords are some common and easy to find puzzles. Finding the missing piece, adding letters to create words, and searching for the answers to fit the grid becomes a good source of mental exercise.
This Japanese numeric puzzle is another amazing means of triggering brain activity. The game has a 9×9 square grid partly filled with numbers. This grid has 9 smaller grids each of size 3×3. The objective is to fill each small grid and every single row and column with numbers from 1 to 9 without repetition. As complex as it seems, the game can become very interesting as you get a hang of it. A lot of newspapers have a section dedicated to Sudoku. There are also many Sudoku puzzle books available online.
A simple but impactful ming game. You need to count in reverse starting from any number you like. But the catch is, you need to subtract another number every time in the sequence like 3, 5, or 7. So if you start at 200 and subtract 5, you go like 200, 195, 190, and so on.
Meditation is an age old means to enhance brain functions. It is a great means to relax your brain, improve your imagination, increase focus, produce creativity, and provide peace. This is helpful in reducing risks of brain related issues like depression, anxiety, memory loss, ambiguity, etc. Find a silent space, start a piece of soothing music, sit in the “gyan mudra aasan”, close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing. Additionally, you can chant some positive quotes or mantras.
Read a Book:
Books are indeed man’s best friend. And also a great means to inculcate imagination and excitement. You can choose a book in any language that you like and read it through. Reading will help in taking your mind off things, engaging you in a different reality, giving you more scope to learn stuff, and enhancing your cognitive abilities. Some good books for seniors are From Age-ing to Sage-ing by Zalman Schachter, Disrupt Ageing by Jo Ann Jenkins, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number by Carleen Brice, and The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister.
Another way to engage seniors is through card games. There are a huge number of card games available. For instance, solitaire, rummy, poker, hearts, etc. All these games use strategies, colour coordination, sequencing, and many other skills that are directly or indirectly related to brain functionality.
Learn Something New:
Learning should not stop at any age. Even after crossing the 50s, seniors can try their hands at new stuff, something that they always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time for. Well, this is the time. Pick up those brushes and learn to paint. Get your hands dirty and try pottery. Write a poem. Design a dress. Create a comedy gig. Try anything you like as far as it makes you happy.
Mental health is as important as physical health. Just like seniors need support through mobility scooters & electric wheelchairs for movement, similarly, they need support for understanding and processing things. And it is not necessary that cognitive deterioration is always associated with ageing. This can occur at any age. That is why brain exercises are important for all. The mentioned exercises and games are free to use and can help seniors not only keep their cognitive balance but also steer away from chronic diseases. The sooner you start, the better you can enhance your capabilities.