Choose Life Series Week 2: Exercise your mind

As we age, we tend to fall into a routine and do tasks that we are familiar with. However we need to remember to exercise out brains so that it continues to function. There are many studies that have found people over 70 years who, in their younger years, who regularly engage in mentally stimulating activities, have a decreased risk of developing dementia. Even if this practice of brain stimulation is practised later in life, it was noted to have positive effects on the brain.

What happens to the brain when you have continued learning such as read, play games, do craft activities, a musical instrument, or even dance?

  • Increased cells and increased connections between cells
  • Have the ability to use the other undamaged flexible cognitive cells to perform tasks you used to perform on those already damaged cells.

In the early stages of dementia, the person experiencing the symptoms of dementia may be showing less interests in the activities once previously enjoyed.

Here are some tips as to how a caregiver can assist and also in making adjustments to the activities:

  • Keep the person’s skills and abilities in mind. The activities previously enjoyed may need adjustments to match the person’s current abilities.
  • Help to have all components to the activity, such as painting or craft work, set up prior.
  • Break activities into simple, easy-to-follow steps and allow one task at a time.
  • Offer support and supervision.
  • Be attentive to the emotions and behaviours when the activity is taking place. The individual may experience discomfort and irritation therefore the activity may need adjust accordingly.
  • Focus on the enjoyment and the process of the activity, not the result.
  • Reaffirm that their actions are positive to the activity
  • Make the connection between yourself and the person
  • Include activities that allows the person to express themselves such as singing and dancing.
  • The time of the day is vital. If the process starts to disintegrate, adjust the activity and try again (later or another day).

In summary, continued learning strengthens the brain cells and its connections, and also decreases the risk of developing dementia. Have a daily routine of activities that are within the abilities and skills of the person. If you notice the person’s attention span waning or frustration level increasing, it is likely time to end the activity. Be their emotional facilitator throughout the process.

At KOPWA’s Archbold House, we have activities and events for our Residents. We welcome volunteers of any kind (man, woman, and animal). Give us a call on  9412 0284  if you wish to find out more.