September is International Strategic Thinking Month and for an aging senior who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there could be a wide range of activities, games, and other fun things that may actually be beneficial to them as well. While it is certainly important to discuss the prospect of some type of home care for the future as early as possible, there are other things a senior can be doing right now that may improve their life and their quality of it in the years ahead.
Make no mistake, some research studies are showing that mental stimulation early on — shortly after diagnosis — could help slow down the progression of memory loss (Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation).
Now, what are some fun things that an elderly person could do that may actually help strengthen their mind, slow down memory loss, and maybe lead to a higher quality of life four, five, or even eight or 10 years from now?
Let’s look at a few and get home care services to help your seniors with them.
1. The crossword puzzle.
Millions of people love the crossword puzzle. They have been doing these games for decades. It can take a bit of time to get used to the rhythm and flow of how to play, how to read the clues, and become better at it, but this is a great activity that helps strengthen the brain.
The brain is a muscle and like any other muscle in the body, the more you use it, the more you exercise it, the stronger it can become. That doesn’t mean this is going to stop memory loss, but it can help strengthen neural connections for a while.
2. Put puzzles together.
Whether it’s a 500 piece puzzle, a 1,000 piece puzzle, an ‘impossible’ puzzle, or something else, puzzles require a person to use their brain in ways they might not normally do. You have to look at shapes, colors, patterns, and so much more to try and figure out how everything goes together properly.
It can be a wonderfully enjoyable activity for millions of people, though it may not be as popular as it once was.
3. Strategic games.
Chess, checkers, or even concentration are all games that demand a person strategize, use their memory, and think ahead. If the senior has never played any of these types of games or hasn’t done so in a long time, it’s never too late to learn.
Writing down one’s thoughts, memories, and experiences in a journal can be a powerful mental activity for aging seniors, including those with Alzheimer’s. It could even provide a secondary benefit.
Imagine that aging person, a couple of years from now, struggling to remember how things were just a couple of years ago. They can look through that journal and read their thoughts. Then, they would be connecting those neural networks once again, providing another layer of stimulation.
5. Reading together with a home care aide.
Reading is a wonderful activity that really taps into a vast network of neural connections. You have to use your imagination, especially for fiction or creative nonfiction stories. If the senior reads with a home care aide, you or somebody else they care about, it can be a wonderfully comfortable activity that strengthens those relationship bonds, too.