Where did I put my keys? What was I just doing? What’s the word I am looking for? We all ask ourselves these questions from time to time. Memory lapses are quite common, especially in our busy modern lives. As we age, however, these lapses can occur more frequently. Fortunately, it is never too late to start working to combat memory loss, and seniors can use entertaining daily activities to keep their brains sharp. Here are five ways seniors can boost their memory while having fun.
1. Do Puzzles. Whether you are a mathematical genius or prefer to stick to simple arithmetic, games like Sudoku will give your brain a workout, increase your patience, and help you relieve stress. Simply fill in the empty chart cells with the numbers 1-9. There are puzzles of varying degrees of difficulty, so the game works well for novices as well as advanced players. You can play Sudoku online or use the pen-and-paper method. If your interests lie in words rather than numbers, test and build your vocabulary with crossword puzzles. Many large newspapers include a daily crossword, but some require that you pay for a subscription to have access to this feature. Tech-savvy seniors can also find free daily crosswords on the Penny Dell Crossword app.
2. Read a Good Book. In today’s busy world, it is perhaps easier to put in screen time than book time, but activities like reading can stimulate the brain. In fact, a 2013 article in the journal Neurology finds those who participate in mentally challenging activities (including reading) earlier and later in life experience a slower memory decline than their peers. If you have had an interest in reading in the past, reawaken your inner bookworm and immerse yourself in a good story. Your brain will thank you.
3. Study a Foreign Language. Perhaps learning a foreign language sounds more like work than fun, but with the wide range of online resources and apps available, picking up French or Spanish can be diverting as well as educational. Plus, recent studies suggest that learning another language later in life can delay dementia, which means you can improve your brain’s health while showing off your newly acquired linguistic skills. Begin your language-learning journey by using the app or website form of Duolingo.
4. Play Cards and Board Games. Solitary activities are great, but social interaction is another important component to brain health. According to the Mayo Clinic, socialization helps stave off stress and depression, both of which can factor into memory loss. So gather your children, grandchildren, and friends and play a few rounds of Uno or Monopoly for the sake of your mental health.
5. Exercise. If your body is in shape physically, it is more likely to be in good form mentally as well. Harvard Health Publications reports that exercise helps reduce the risk of ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke (all issues that can lead to memory loss). It also raises one’s level of neurotrophins, which protect brain cells against damage. You don’t have to engage in vigorous exercise to enjoy these benefits. Find activities you are capable of and enjoy, such as taking brief walks, planting a garden, or swimming. You can even combine the benefits of exercise and socialization by taking a dance or exercise class. Remember to consult your doctor before you begin a new exercise regimen.