#ActiveApril Health & Wellness Mental Health

Keeping your Aging Brain Sharp with Mind Games

April 9, 2019
Keeping Aging Brain Sharp

If you have been following my #ActiveApril program you will know that my Get Active – Feel Alive not only includes physical activity but also activity to  keep our Minds sharp and alert.

Statistics show:

There are more than 400,000 people in Australia with dementia. Of those people, about 55% are women. More than 50% of residents in Australian residential aged care facilities have dementia.

Keep your aging brain sharp with Mind Games

Mental Health can improve by exercising your brain. There are many ways we can keep our minds active, use our brains and keep alert as we age. Here are just a few examples:

Bingo! Legs Eleven, Sixty-Six Clickety Click

I regularly volunteer at my MILs aged care home. Recently, I’ve started helping with Bingo. Here in Australia when you mention the game Bingo you automatically think of very old people, sitting in a hall, waiting to shout BINGO if they have won. At first I was amused as I observed the residents but after a while I realised that it was great therapy for their brains.

How?

  • They need to listen for the number that is called
  • They need to concentrate while the game is in progress. I found it quite confusing at first, as there are several types of games that they play – full house or 5 in a line, bottom row or top row. This makes them think and remember which game they are playing.
  • They need to be able to check if they have that particular number
  • They need to understand the rules of the game
  • They become competitive – even if the prize is only a chocolate

Keep Learning – Use it or Lose it

I love to learn and since retiring and starting the blog, I find I am regularly taking online courses. I recently completed a Life Coaching Certification and a Health & Nutrition Coaching Certification. Both were of great value to me and I look forward to sharing with you ways to improve our lives, be healthier and happier especially in the next phase of our Third Age.

There are literally thousands of courses you can take from hobbies to full on University degrees. How often have you read about someone in their 90s graduating from University. You are never too old!

Puzzles

I was reading an article The Healing Power of Jigsaw Puzzles and did you know they have been around since the 1700s? I know my BBB (Best Blogging Buddy), Leanne Le Cras from Cresting the Hill is an avid fan of Jigsaws and was given a gift of a 1,000 piece jigsaw that was a family montage put together by our daughter and then sent off to be turned into a jigsaw.

When I visit my MIL’s aged care home, there is a gentleman who spends part of his day doing Jigsaw Puzzles. They are very intricate with some having 1,000 pieces or more. He takes his time and each day completes a little more until he has finished. Jigsaw puzzles can be very tricky especially that one piece you just can’t find!

In the article, on JigsawJungle it mentions:

Studies, like the notable MacArthur study, have shown that keeping the mind active with jigsaw puzzles and other mind-flexing activities can actually lead to a longer life expectancy, a better quality of life, and reduce our chances of developing certain types of mental illness, including memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s Disease (by an amazing third).

Crosswords

Crosswords or Sudoko are great ways to make us think. I had an Uncle who could complete a Cryptic Crossword in a matter of minutes. I’ve yet to master that and Sudoko but I can try.

Keep Dancing it isn’t just good for your physical fitness

dancing

I love dancing and I shared with you my history of learning and then teaching ballet and other forms of dance. I have never done Ballroom dancing but would love to. I’ve tried Zumba and that was great fun. I had to concentrate because it is fast paced and you really need your brain and feet in sync that is for sure.

In my post Why You Should be Dancing After 60 I mentioned that studies have shown


Volunteers (average age 68) over 18 months, were given either a weekly course of learning dance routines or training in flexibility and endurance. ‘Both groups showed an increase in the hippocampus (part of the temporal lobe) region of the brain. This is important because this area can be prone to age-related decline and is affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s. It also plays a key role in memory and learning, as well as keeping one’s balance.’

Foods to Boost Your Brain Power & Memory

I recently read an article 11 Best Foods to Boost Your Brain & Memory. I’ve linked to the full article and listed the foods below. Are any of these included in your eating plan?

  • Oily Fish – salmon, trout, sardines
  • Coffee
  • Blueberries
  • Tumeric
  • Broccoli
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Oranges
  • Eggs
  • Greet Tea

These are just a few ways we can keep our aging brains sharp. Have you tried any of my suggestions? Do you have others you can add to the list?

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41 Comments

  • Reply Retirement Reflections April 9, 2019 at 02:42

    HI, Sue – I also subscribe to the “use it or lose it” theory, as well as to the philosophy of life long learning. I am currently learning to play Mahjong. Not only is it great for keeping the mind sharp, but it is also a fantastic social game as well. Oh, and I am now off to my beginner Italian lessons – so there’s that too! 🙂

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 08:26

      Hi Donna, you will be able to converse with Mike in Italian when we meet you! He was born in Italy and although moved to Australia when he was 4 years old, is still very fluent in Italian. Such a help when we visit Italy! x

  • Reply Min @ Write of the Middle April 9, 2019 at 10:07

    Hi Sue – I’m a great believer in ‘use it or lose it’ too! It applies to us physically and it applies to us mentally. Just as we need to keep our bodies moving, we need to keep our minds active too. I play Words with Friends on my phone with a friend in Sydney and a few others. I love it. I have my turns every now and then when sitting down with a coffee. It exercises my brain but I also find it very relaxing. Of course the blog keeps my brain active as I do quite a bit of research and am always having to learn new technical things. I love sudoku and crosswords now and then too. I also did a Diploma of Professional Photography a couple of years ago. There are more courses I’d like to do also. Have a great day Sue and thanks for linking up with #ZTT. xo

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 08:27

      Hi Min, there is so much to keep our brains active these days that sometimes I feel tired just thinking about them! It is great though because there is something for everyone. I love to keep learning and find the online courses interesting. You should look up Udemy they have short courses that are reasonably priced. 🙂

  • Reply Leslie Susan Clingan April 9, 2019 at 12:52

    Going to link to this great post in my Wellness Wednesday post about healthy mind tips. Great information here, Sue. I need to do more in this department. Have the best of intentions everyday but never make it priority.

  • Reply Debbie April 9, 2019 at 15:47

    This is great Sue and I had a post planned celebrating my husband’s love of jigsaws and puzzles! I tend to sue my mind in teaching myself new skills like blogging rather than games and puzzles – everyone is different aren’t they? I agree it’s so important to continue these types of skills, as much as physical exercise is important too, we need to use it or lose it!! Shared for #ztt

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 08:32

      Hi Deb, great minds! I’m like you, my skills are more about learning online and yes blogging certainly keeps my brain sharp especially when the software doesn’t want to play and you need to find out why. I always enjoyed reconciling the accounts and loved the challenge of solving why an account didn’t balance. Use or lose it! Have a great week. xx

      • Reply Debbie April 12, 2019 at 10:27

        I’ve just been back and read this again Sue and shared for #mlstl

        • Reply Sue Loncaric April 12, 2019 at 13:52

          You are such a good friend, Deb. Have a beautiful weekend and your Winners and Losers post was Magic! You are on a winner with those. x

  • Reply Tom at Sightings April 9, 2019 at 23:24

    I do crosswords. B and I go dancing. Both are great. But I’ve also read that we shouldn’t just do the same things over and over again, we need to try new things to keep those gears moving in our heads.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 08:36

      Hi Tom, good point about trying new things. What do they say ‘variety is the spice of life’? It is good to keep extending ourselves though but I like the idea of dancing such a joyful and fun way to keep fit, physically and mentally. Have a great week!

  • Reply Erica/Erika April 10, 2019 at 03:46

    Hi Sue, A wealth of great information, again. I also believe in the Use it or Lose it philosophy. Thank you for listing many great options. This is the first time I have heard about creating a personalized puzzle. A great gift idea.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 08:40

      Hi Erica, there are so many ways to keep our brains agile. I thought the personalized puzzle was a lovely idea for a gift. Thanks for visiting and glad you found some good information in the post. Have a great week! xx

  • Reply Natalie April 10, 2019 at 06:16

    Hi Sue – I agree “use it or lose it’, and always enjoy learning. I’ve been doing online French and Spanish using Duolingo, play word games and a few other activities that are in my Wellness April 10 post. Look forward to seeing you there! #MLSTL

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 08:41

      Wow Natalie, two languages! You always amaze and inspire me with all that you do. xx

  • Reply Bren Pace April 10, 2019 at 07:04

    I so love these ideas, Sue. I am a huge fan of crossword puzzles and word searches. I know they keep my brain active and sometimes really tick me off! Both that can be a good emotion. No matter what our age, a stale mind can only lead to illness or disaster. Thank you for sharing these ideas with us!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 08:42

      I enjoy crosswords, Bren although I haven’t done one for a while. My uncle could do the Cryptic Crossword in minutes and yet I struggle to answer one of the prompts!

  • Reply Terri Webster Schrandt April 10, 2019 at 08:29

    Sue, you are so right on about using our brains as we age. Too many 60+ folks just sit in front of the TV all evening (yes I admit to some), and I understand this after years of working. Congrats on getting a life coach certification! Did it cost any $$? You would be and already are a great life coach!! My mom is in a care home with dementia and other physical maladies, but she loves her Bingo! Great post, visiting today from #MLSTL

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 08:46

      I’m so pleased your Mum still enjoys Bingo, despite the dementia. My Life Coaching Certification was reasonably priced. We don’t need to have a certification in Australia but I wanted to get something that showed I had studied. Now I need to work out how to use it in a business. Do I do it online?, Courses? One-to-one? Anyway I wanted to do it for myself first and then at least I can help others through my blog.

  • Reply Theresa Muth April 10, 2019 at 10:30

    Crossword puzzles are my favorite! I agree that as we age we must exercise our brains. Just keeping up with technology uses lots of brain power as well! I just started my blog and let me tell you,learning new technology in your 50’s is no joke!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 08:49

      I agree, Theresa that keeping up with technology is a big way to keep our brains active. Just trying to work out which remote to use can be a challenge LOL:) When I started blogging I learned so much and it really increases your confidence. Let me know if I can be of any help to you. Have a great week. I’ve subscribed to your blog!

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au April 10, 2019 at 12:20

    Hi Sue – thanks for the lovely mention about my jigsaw doing (which has diminished recently with a kitten in the house!) I’m a big fan of things that use different parts of our brains – jigsaws, reading, crosswords, sudoku, computer games, and of course blogging! I think we really need to engage our minds and make ourselves think – and apparently learning new stuff is the very best thing – so I’m feeling very proud after finally getting Mailchimp to work for me – use it or lose it!
    And thanks for co-hosting another #MLSTL with me – you’re just the best – and I’ve shared on my SM xx

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 09:00

      I thought it was a lovely gift idea and I know how much you enjoy your jigsaw puzzles. Good for you with the Mailchimp. Blogging certainly extends our brain doesn’t it? We have learned so much in the last 4 years haven’t we?

  • Reply Denyse Whelan April 10, 2019 at 15:38

    Great post about using it or losing it. My husband is a crosswords fan and 1000 piece jigsaw one too. He also plays the piano or guitar at least once a day. My mind is kept bright by my blogging, conversations on line in education and health, learning art and more. I love the idea of playing Bingo but sadly have never taken part! Your MIL always looks happy! A great sign she is in the right setting at her age and stage.

    Thank you for your words of help and enlightenment outlined here..

    Denyse x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 09:03

      How talented your husband is? I played the piano when I was younger and often think it would be lovely to take it up again. I’m like you – blogging, online education, and thinking up activities to do with my grandchildren keep my mind active.

  • Reply Jennifer April 10, 2019 at 19:26

    Yes, use it or lose it is so true. My mother was a great example. When she was having weekly card games with her friends, she was doing well mentally. But shortly after they stopped (she was 97 when they stopped having their weekly meetings) her memory started going downhill

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 09:06

      Hi Jennifer, yes I’ve read about your Mum and she was amazing. I know that my MIL would start going downhill if she stopped her activities at the aged care home. We just have to keep going, don’t we?

  • Reply Christie Hawkes April 10, 2019 at 21:59

    What a great reminder, Sue. Besides my job, which forces me to think more than I’d like to sometimes, I do Sudoku puzzles and study French. I got a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle over a year ago. It’s challenging and a Halloween theme, which may have been a mistake. I feel less inclined to work on it outside of the fall. The real problem is I need to find a place where it isn’t in the way, but where I can still easily get to it to work on it. My husband and I play Yahtzee, which isn’t a highly intellectual game, but does require some strategizing. #MLSTL

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 09:08

      Finding a place to leave a half finished jigsaw is a challenge isn’t it Christie! How long have you been studying French? I have tried several times to learn Italian as my husband is from Italy. I find that when I’m in Italy and surrounded by the language it is so helpful and I learn so much. Then I come home and forget it all!

  • Reply Christina Daggett April 11, 2019 at 02:44

    Hi Sue. I think taking some online courses would be really interesting. I’d like to take a writing course, as well as some foreign language courses. Congratulations on completing your courses in life coaching and nutrition. Those seem like they’d be right up your alley. sharing to FB.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 09:10

      Hi Christina I think you would enjoy the writing course and the foreign language courses would help with your travels. I’m happy with my courses that I’ve completed and now have to work out how to use them! x

  • Reply Pat April 11, 2019 at 05:37

    Sue, I felt like saying “check, check, check”. Sometimes I don’t think I do enough, but then I see lists like your’s and I know I’m being active most days – physically and mentally. Re-visiting from #mlstl

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 09:11

      Thanks Pat, I know from reading your posts that you are active! Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and it is always great to have you as part of the community, sharing our thoughts. x

  • Reply Amy Johnson April 11, 2019 at 07:17

    Great tips! It seems every older person I know is struggling with this issue.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 09:15

      Yes it is something we all face Amy but also we can definitely do something positive to keep our brains sharp. x

  • Reply Candi Randolph April 11, 2019 at 07:43

    I agree that the mind and body will stay sharper and healthier if we make them work. My mom, who lives in an independent living community, loves to play Bingo and several other board games. I think it’s great fun for her and her friends, and also helps to keep their minds sharp. I love to exercise, am having fun with dance as a form of fitness, and can say that I regularly consume at least half the foods/beverages on the list. Thank goodness coffee was on there…I must have wonderful brain power as it is my favorite thing to drink! 🙂

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 09:17

      Hi Candi I love all of your varied activities including the dance fitness. Exercise is really great for our mental health and keeping us alert. I see my MIL thriving in her aged care community because she is involved in everything!

  • Reply Victoria April 11, 2019 at 08:11

    I try to keep my mind active. I read, play solitaire and will sometimes do Suduko or puzzles. There was never any dementia in my family so I am not as worried maybe as I should be.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 11, 2019 at 09:05

      I don’t think there was dementia in my family either Victoria but I don’t have anyone to ask. Hope all is well in your world and your husband is going okay. xx

  • Reply Christine April 12, 2019 at 20:07

    Keeping your brain active is such an important thing. Part of the reason I blog and write is to keep my brain cells on their toes. Also eating for health is super important. I’ve read sweet potato is a great food for longevity though you have to eat an awful lot of it.

  • Reply Janet April 13, 2019 at 19:26

    Like Leanne, I am a huge fan of jigsaw puzzles. Haven’t done one for ages due to all the commotion of shifting house but it must be just about time to pull one out – perfect for quite winter nights in!

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