Brain Training to Slow Mental Decline

Apr 16, 2024

 Older adult woman gardening with spouse.We’ve all had those days where we have forgotten where we parked our car, put our keys in the refrigerator, or went looking for our phone that was in our hand the entire time. These can be instances that we laugh at ourselves for, but can be a cause for worry as we grow older. As we age, our cognitive abilities begin to slow down.

Fortunately, there have been many studies done on how we can slow the progression of cognitive impairments. There are several ways (most activities are fun!) we can train our brain and keep our memory sharp.

Brain Training Study

Recently, a clinical trial called Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) found that a brain training called “speed-of-processing” lowered dementia risk. The study focused on the effects of different cognitive training programs on slowing cognitive impairment progression. The participants were healthy older adults and had an average age of 73.6 years.

Participants assigned to the “speed-of-processing” training had a 29% lower occurrence of dementia versus people who had no training at all. The “speed-of-processing’ training was developed to improve the speed and accuracy of the participant’s visual attention. During the training, the participant identifies an object at the center of the computer screen while identifying an object in the periphery in a set amount of time. As the participants get more answers correct, the training gets more challenging as the timing to identify the objects get shorter. You can try your hand (or more appropriately, your brain) at this type of brain training at Brain HQ.

5 Brain Training Exercises

Thanks to technology and the ability to be creative with how we exercise our brains, there are several things we can do to lower our chances of developing cognitive impairment.

Apply Brain Training Activities to Everyday Life

You can apply brain training to your daily chores or activities. Here are some examples of everyday activities to incorporate brain training.

  • Write a to-do list or your grocery list on a piece of paper. Next, memorize your list. As you are shopping or working through your to-do list, see how much you can remember without looking at your list.
  • Listen to a new song. As you are listening to the song, write down some of the lyrics.
  • Change the way you perform a task. For example – if you normally start weeding a garden on the left side, start weeding from the right.

Crossword or Number Puzzles

Puzzles, in general, are very stimulating as they target several sections of the brain. Reasoning and problem solving are often the first sections to be damaged by dementia. Puzzles (especially larger puzzles) require you to remember and retain information which gives the brain exercise to create long-term memories.

Learn Something New

Finding new things to learn is very refreshing to the brain. Not only does it improve your memory to help you fight dementia, but it helps in coping with stress, improves your self-esteem, and strengths the connections between sections of your brain. Take a college class or attend a lecture to learn something you’ve always wanted to. Some colleges allow older adults to attend classes for free as part of a community outreach program. Trying a new craft or hobby, learning to play a musical instrument, or learning a new language are great examples of brain training.

Read a Book

Reading a good book, the newspaper, or a magazine has many benefits to the brain. Similar to learning something new, reading books also strengthens the connectivity in your brain. It also reduces stress and anxiety, reduces depression symptoms, and provides mental stimulation.

Download Brain Training Apps

There are many apps out there that can provide a fun way to exercise your brain. Here are some examples of apps you can download on your devices.

  • Lumosity – A free app you can download on your smartphone or tablet. This app provides a continuously updated set of scientific games and challenges designed to improve your memory.
  • Elevate – Brain Training Games – This app provides brain training personalized to you. After you download the app, you answer a few questions about what you would like to do better as far as memory goes. Then, you take a short, timed test to see where you stand as far as what areas need to be improved. Once you finish this, the app will determine which brain training games will benefit you the most.
  • Happify –  Aside from brain training games, this app assists you in feeling more positive and taking control of stress and anxiety which affects your cognitive abilities. Happify provides you with tools and programs to take control of your emotional well-being.

Stay Healthy – Mind & Body

In addition to brain training, it is also essential to maintain or develop healthy habits to keep your brain operating at its best. Daily exercise and healthy eating are crucial to maintaining a healthy mind. Also, social activity plays a big part in keeping cognitive impairments at bay. Join a club or be sure to set some time in your day to connect with a friend or relative.

The Admiral at the Lake is a resident-driven retirement community. The residents operate the activities and daily life of the community, most of which provide plenty of opportunities to learn something new, continue hobbies, and social activities. To learn more about the lifestyle at The Admiral at the Lake, feel free to contact us or call (773) 433-1800.