Keep Your Brain Active

Exercise can help in a variety of ways…keeping muscles fit, improving blood circulation, and providing emotional stability.  Physical exercise is healthy for the body.  Now, new research indicates there is reason to believe that giving your brain a workout can also help the elderly improve concentration and block out some distractions.

Aging effects all of us, and all parts of our body. As we age, our brains change. Older adults process sensory information in subtlety different ways. Due to changes in the brain, they experience changes in how they perceive environmental information which has been gathered and processed by their eyes and ears. This is called “sensory integration,” or a tendency to combine information from different senses. Older adults are much more likely to experience sensory integration than younger adults. Sensory integration can make it harder to block out distracting sights and sounds. Your normal filters are not blocking out unneeded stimuli. This can result in confusion and a lack of concentration when trying to focus on a task.

We recently came across the following information from Companion Connection Senior Care — noting a research study designed to determine if eight hours of brain exercise can improve healthy older adults’ (age 65 – 75 years old) ability to filter out unwanted sights and sounds. Using MRI technology, visualizing blood flow and brain activity, researchers found that a growing number of activities, from crossword puzzles to logic-based number puzzles (Sudoku), reduced these subjects’ susceptibility to distracting stimuli, and resulted in improved concentration. The brain exercise training involved either a structured one-on-one mental work-out program or a group brain exercise program.

Make time to exercise your brain. Try to set aside 15 – 20 minutes every day to complete a crossword puzzle or other brain game. Many times, our homecare staff will sit at the kitchen table and enjoy a crossword puzzle, or a jigsaw puzzle, with elderly clients. Something simple and fun can help seniors improve concentration and block out distractions. And it can provide a shared sense of accomplishment.

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– John D. Miller is the owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, an agency providing in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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