Alzheimer’s disease affects 5.8 million people in the U.S., and as the population ages, this number increases. The condition causes issues with memory, thinking, and behavior. While a little forgetfulness due to age is normal, Alzheimer’s disease is not a part of healthy aging.
Four Key Components of a Good Brain-Training Activity
People who continue to learn new things and challenge their brains have a lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s. Giving your brain a workout by learning something new is one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp.
- Learn something new – Pick up a hobby or take a class on something you know nothing about and is out of your comfort zone.
- Challenge yourself – Choose something that demands your complete attention, such as learning to play a difficult piece of music.
- Learn a buildable skill – Find an activity that begins at a basic level but requires you to keep improving and stretch your capabilities.
- Find something you like — Rewarding activities support the learning process, so choose activities that are challenging, satisfying, and enjoyable.
Think of all the things you wanted to try, such as learning to play an instrument, make jewelry or pottery, learn a language, or take dancing or golf lessons. Any of these can help improve and protect your memory as long as they challenge and engage your mind.
Brain Training Apps
Brain training apps like Peak and Elevate use game-play to workout your brain. Currently, studies support the short-term benefits of brain-training apps. Still, since they are relatively new, longer-term studies are needed to know their long-term effects. What we do know is that active behaviors, like these apps, helps strengthen the brain’s neural circuits. And they’re fun.
Do Math in Your Head
It turns out. The math does have a real-world application. Forget the pencil, paper, or computer. Figure out math problems in your head to keep your brain active. If you like even more of a challenge, try walking at the same time.
Learn a Foreign Language
Having a rich vocabulary has been linked to a lower risk for cognitive decline. Learning even more words in a different language can help keep your brain in good shape. The listening and hearing involved in learning a new language stimulate the brain.
Learn to Cook a New Cuisine
Take a cooking class and learn to cook a new cuisine. Taste and memory building are connected, and using senses such as smell, sight, touch, and taste exercises different parts of your brain.
Fine-Tune Your Fine-Motor Skills
Try a new hobby that involves your fine-motor skills. Knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, assembling a puzzle are all ways to give these skills a workout.
Take Up a New Sport
Keeping in shape is one way to improve your memory and stave off Alzheimer’s disease, so if you take up a new sport that works your mind and your body, you’re getting a two-for. Try yoga, tennis, golf, or pickleball – anything that involves learning new skills.
Test Your Memory Recall
Make a list of items and memorize it. About an hour or so later, test yourself on how many items you can remember from the list. Make the items on the list as challenging as possible to give you memory the most mental stimulation.
Although research shows that brain training can delay the onset of dementia, one of the main symptoms of Alzheimer’s, how much or when to start is still not known with any certainty. However, brain training at any age can boost your memory and sharpen your mind.