Seniors entering assisted living may need help with daily tasks due to the physical limitations of old age, but often their minds are still relatively healthy. These seniors can benefit from taking simple actions that will help them continue to maintain their mental abilities.
1. Take on puzzles and games. Exercise the mind with logic challenges to keep it active. Card games are a great example: those seniors who enjoy bridge, even without realizing it, are doing more for themselves than simply having a good time enjoying competition with friends. Board games like monopoly are good choices too, and don’t forget the ever-popular Bingo (play with multiple cards to get the most brain-stimulating challenge)! Sodoku and crossword puzzles work well. The best benefit from games comes when there’s a social aspect to them: interacting with others provides additional stimulation and challenge.
2. Be social. If you’re not someone who enjoys games, even social interaction itself can benefit the mind. Talk to other residents and get to know them. Take an interest in the staff members you come into contact with and ask them about their lives outside of work–with their demanding and sometimes emotionally draining jobs, many caregivers will appreciate the chance to make a personal connection and be recognized. Check out activites being offered by the community. Social interaction has had documented positive effects not just on the mind, but on overall health as well. Seniors in assisted living, who have a community readily available, are well-situated to take advantage of these benefits.
3. Eat properly. Good nutrition and regular meals are good for both the body and the brain. Your assisted living facility can be a big help with this, providing healthy food on schedule without you having to worry about it. Eat a variety of things and for mental benefits specifically focus on colorful fruit, leafy green vegetables, and foods with omega-3 fatty acids like nuts and fish. Drink water often: seniors are more likely to become dehydrated than younger adults.
4. Move. We think of exercise as benefiting the body, but our minds thrive on it too. Don’t shy away from the chance to be active. Coordinated movements, especially dancing, can be great for keeping yourself sharp. Line dancing, for example, forces you to use your memory to learn and remember the steps. Another option is to go for a walk, even if it’s just around the hallways of the facility. Seniors have been shown to benefit from light strength training and low-impact aerobic exercises designed for them. Physical activity increases your oxygen use and blood flow to your brain. Whatever exercise you choose, to get the benefits it’s important that you be consistent.