Written by Holly Klamer
Recent studies show that reduced cognitive function may shorten life expectancy, according to Huffington Post. Based on the analysis, it can cause one to age prematurely.
While the majority of people today typically associate “cognitive development” to young individuals, experts said older people must also develop their cognitive functions. Not only that it may boost longevity but, it can also reduce the risk of further premature aging.
By making certain lifestyle choices, every older adult can, indeed, boost cognitive fitness. Here are some of the best and effective ways to do it:
- Exercise to Improve Cognitive Function
Everyone already knows the importance of exercising regularly. But, aside from the physical benefits, having an exercise routine can boost cognitive functions, which eventually benefits one’s longevity.
Based on studies, exercising increases blood circulation, particularly in the hippocampus. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory.
Another reason why exercising helps is due to the reduction of tissue density loss in the brain. Studies found out that people who are “aerobically fit” possess better cognitive functioning. This is likely one of the reasons why all senior assisted living homes and facilities include exercises and physical activities in their respective daily schedules.
- Improving Cognitive Function Through Engagement
Whether it is engagement with new skills or activities, several new pieces of literature suggest that older individuals who engage themselves in a variety of activities show improvements in their cognitive functions. Reports, however, noted that the benefits of these engagements depend on the quality of the activity and the experience.
But, regardless, older individuals can expect improvements, especially when the activities and engagements are “entirely novel.” Therefore, experts today encourage seniors and adults to try new activities and engage with them on a daily basis.
- Play Board Games and Card Games
Some Alzheimer’s care facilities for seniors in recent times have included various kinds of activities, like games and puzzles, in their schedules. Some institutions attest to the positive effects of these avenues in “stimulating” cognitive functions.
Alongside the great benefits to the further development of the brain, these kinds of pursuits also promote enjoyment among the elderly. It makes total sense why caregivers resort to providing board and card games, especially for seniors with dementia. Some great board and card games include checkers, scrabble, bingo, and monopoly.
- Take Up a New Hobby
Taking up new hobbies is another effective way to boost cognitive fitness, which then leads to better longevity. Experts recommend elderly individuals to learn new things, like antiquing, gardening, raising pets, or even learning to play musical instruments.
Whether it may be a self-learning activity or a class led by experts, new hobbies and activities help develop new connections between neurons. Studies conclude that this helps offset cell loss due to conditions and even aging alone.
- Use Memory Tricks
Using memory tricks is another way to boost cognitive functions. This is very helpful, especially for older adults who are suffering from memory problems.
Here are some tricks that will get you started:
- Making a list
Making a list helps improve memory, not only for people who have memory-related concerns but, to everyone, as well. The act of categorizing and organizing thoughts on a piece of paper makes remembering them much easier. Not to mention, the act of writing the thoughts further helps reinforce the mind.
- Discovering the “whys”
Thinking and understanding the “why” of something helps one to strengthen memory. It gives the connection to the main purpose of that something, which makes it more memorable.
- Breaking it down
Another best trick for memory concerns is breaking all the information down into much simpler terms. For instance, remembering a six-digit number might be a challenge for older individuals. Instead of memorizing it all at once, breaking it down to three digits per try will be much more helpful. There is actually a reason phone numbers are divided into smaller bits.
- Mnemonics help
Mnemonics is another trick that everybody can do. In almost every field of study and discipline, traditional mnemonics are rampant. These are patterns of letters, ideas, and/or associations that make something more memorable. One great example of this is the seven colors of the rainbow: ROY G BIV.
Reading is a great way to exercise the brain. Neuroscientists found out that reading novels and other materials improves several brain functions on a variety of levels.
While reading, in general, helps, research suggests that novels particularly enhance the “connectivity” patterns in the brain, resulting in a more improved brain. The activity also flexes the imagination, which further stimulates other functions of the brain.
- Social Connections
Aside from engaging in different hobbies and activities, engaging with other people also helps boost cognitive functions, which results in better longevity, which has also been known to prevent dementia. Making social connections not only stimulates the brain but, also, helps the mind, emotion, and will.
Moreover, studies have identified that the primary health consequences of loneliness trigger the further decline of psychological and cognitive functions.
All in all, these are the seven of the best and most effective ways to improve cognitive functions. As noted, the lesser risk of cognitive decline, the better life expectancy one can have. So, as much as possible, get the mind and brain active on a regular basis. Preventing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease will help older adults avoid the need for memory care homes down the road.