Brain Exercises to Prevent Alzheimer’s?
Welcome to my second article about Alzheimer’s disease. These brain execises may or may not work, nobody really knows if these exercises would work.
There’s a saying that goes –
“What you don’t use, you lose.”
This is very true for your body and your brain. If you do not train your muscles, they will atrophy. Yet, even at the age of 50, if you start working out and lifting weights, you’ll notice that your muscles get stronger and bigger.
Your body is a highly adaptive mechanism…
…and so is your brain.
Ideally, you should keep it active during your 40s and 50s. This will help to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s as you get older.
However, even if someone has been diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s, working the brain can help to improve cognitive function and prevent the disease from escalating fast.
In this article, you’ll discover a few ways to engage your brain and challenge it. The key to progressing will be to step out of the comfort zone a little and force your brain to adapt. This will mean doing new things that the patient is not accustomed to, and since it’s not entirely easy, they’ll have to think and adapt.
1. Play board games or other games that requires one to think
Board games are not only a fantastic way to bond with your parent/patient, but they help increase brain activity. Games like chess, checkers, Scrabble, Boggle, etc. are really good. They require mental recall, strategy and brain power. Do not make it easy for the patient to win. Challenge them.
2. Learn to play a new instrument
Even if the person is not musically inclined, the act of learning to play an instrument in their later years will work wonders to keep them busy and growing. Not only will they be required to learn the notes, scales, etc. but their bodies will need to adapt too.
Playing the guitar or piano will require finger dexterity. Playing the flute or saxophone will require correct breathing. All these are new challenges that force the brain to work and adapt.
The goal is to ensure that the patient keeps practicing daily and when they get better, present them with new challenges. It may seem counterproductive to ask an Alzheimer’s patient to learn to play a new instrument when they are experiencing other issues, but that’s exactly why it’s so useful. Learning a new skill has a positive effect on other difficulties.
The act of learning will not only improve their condition and retard the progress of the disease, but when they master the instrument, there will be a sense of accomplishment too. Happiness is found in progress.
3. Learn a new language
Even more challenging than an instrument, learning to speak and write a new language will force the patient to use their memory. They’ll need to remember new words, form sentences, write in a new way and so on.
It’s best to learn a language that’s foreign to them. For example, Chinese, which has its own characters and strokes. Languages such as Japanese, Hindi, Arabic, etc. will seem like a monumental challenge, but they can all be mastered slowly.
(You’ll need to find a tutor to help teach the patient… and preferably one who has lots of patience.)
4. The arts
Sculpting, origami, painting, drawing, etc. are all avenues to express one’s self while developing new skills. While these skills will be interesting to cultivate, they’re not as taxing on the mind as learning a new language.
So, to some extent they’ll be less effective… but they still help.
What matters is that the seniors have an interest in what they’re doing. If they hate learning new languages, but always expressed an interest in painting, they’re better off learning to paint.
You could try ‘bribing’ them and tell them that they can spend an hour painting if they’ll first spend 20 minutes learning a new language.
It’s all a matter of making them feel like they’re helping themselves.
One of the first signs of aging is that we start getting forgetful every now and again. It’s more severe in AD patients.
The best way to prevent this will be to memorize more often. We did this in school when we memorized boring history facts and algebra rules. As we get older, we rely more on electronic devices rather than our memory.
No one remembers phone numbers anymore because it’s all stored in their phone. Reading the newspaper is no longer popular because we can just watch the news online (even if most of it is fake news). The same applies to mental arithmetic, which is now accomplished with the calculator function on one’s mobile phone.
Going back to basics and using your brain to remember things will help it to stay retentive, alert and function optimally. Alzheimer’s patients can use memorization aids and techniques such as mnemonics to improve their memory skills. This directly helps to improve cognitive function.
These 5 ways of ‘exercising’ one’s brain are highly effective for preventing Alzheimer’s from taking root and progressing rapidly. Start on them early and keep at it. They aren’t easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Use your brain and fight back.
I don’t know if any of these exercises will work, but from my families experience it seems to have helped a family member.
You have nothing to lose by giving it a try.
P.S. For more Information see the Alzheimer’s Organization.
Thanks for visiting, see you in the next article.