One of the worst curses of an advanced age is the loss of memory. Our brains are equipped to help us deal with interpreting the world around us for many decades – but there comes the time for many where the ability to retain and use information begins to fall away.
However, just because forgetfulness kicks in sooner or later doesn’t mean all hope is lost. The brain always retains some form of plasticity – and with the right activities, it can be stimulated, and memory loss can in most cases even be mitigated or delayed. Alzheimer’s patients often withdraw themselves from social activities, perhaps out of fear of being a burden – but with the right environment, they can be encouraged to come back into the fold and be included in daily social life.
Here in Brick, NJ, there are many places dedicated to memory care patients, such as Regency Memory Care. These places come equipped with the facilities and trained staff necessary to help reintroduce and build a routine that can actively help elderly patients slow their memory issues, such as:
Strategy Games: Games like Go, Chess, Checkers and Backgammon are some of the best and most effective classics for getting patients to think hard and be engaged in active play with others.
Puzzles: Games like Sudoku are perfect for this, challenging the patient with logical problems. It’s important to start small and simple, and to ensure a failure-free experience – while difficulty is nice, frustration does kick in eventually, and can lead to emotional problems.
Skill Building: Another option if possible, is to engage in simple and harmless skill building activities, like pottery or music. Learning a new instrument, or picking up an old one can be a great way to keep a patient engaged and keep their mind active.
Reading: For those for whom reading is still an option, it’s an amazing way to keep the brain busy and thinking without too much input or training. As a cognitive exercise, reading forces the brain to keep working in order to make sense of what’s been printed on paper, both physically and in a story context.
The idea behind these exercises and activities is to do the most crucial thing: keep the patients engaged, not just busy. Mental engagement is key to potentially slowing memory loss and improving quality of life, as per the AARP, and memory care can help your loved ones as well.