Brain Aerobics: 6 Ways to Exercise Your Mind

Brain Aerobics: 6 Ways to Exercise Your Mind

Just like a good walking program or a water aerobics class can help you stay physically fit, brain aerobics can help enhance your mental fitness. So what can you do to give your brain a real workout?

The experts from the Heritage Senior Communities share a few ideas to help Michigan caregivers and their aging parents:

  1. Learn something new. Tackling anything that is different from your normal routine helps to stimulate your brain. Foreign language DVDs are a quick and easy way to get started. Artistic pursuits may also be a good fit for your aging loved one. Watercolor painting or photography are two skills you can learn on your own and improve as you go.
  2. Try Neurobics. Have you heard of Neurobics before? It is when you try doing tasks and chores with your non-dominate hand. So if you are right-handed try brushing your teeth and combing your hair with your left hand one day a week. Or try teaching yourself to write with your right hand if you are a leftie. It is a great way to stretch your mind!
  3. 3.     Play some Games. You may have already heard this but it is worth repeating. Many Alzheimer’s experts believe games and puzzles can help delay the progression of the disease. Playing board games with the grandchildren one night a week or a few rounds of cards at the senior center allow you to socialize while exercising your brain. There are also many educational websites devoted to brain fitness including Brain Metrix (http://www.brainmetrix.com/) and Senior Brains (http://www.seniorbrains.com/).
  4. 4.     Dig out of your rut. Routinely doing the same things the same way day after day puts your brain on autopilot. It receives very little stimulation when it isn’t challenged with anything new and different. So dig out of that rut you may be in! Turn left instead of right on your way to church, and create a new route you use a few Sundays a month. Find a new walking path or reverse the one you currently take. Think about ways you can do tasks and chores a little differently as you go about your daily routine.
  5. 5.     Read a good book. Reading is another easy way to keep your mind fit. It can be a good book or just the local newspaper you read each day. You could also subscribe to a few of your favorite magazines and read them on your iPad. All of the new information you take in provides a good workout for your grey matter.
  6. 6.     Keep up with current events. If you spend any time in a Heritage Senior Living community in Michigan or Indiana you know this is a popular pastime for older adults. Keeping up with world events and debating the issues are great brain booster activities. You could help organize a group at your local senior center or even participate in a forum online.

Do you have any suggestions for readers to help boost brain power?

We would love to have you share them in the comment section below!

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5 Ways to Create Memories with Grandparents

5 Ways to Create Memories with Grandparents

Summer vacation has finally arrived for children across the state of Michigan! And that means kids have more time to spend with their grandparents.

As the family historians, grandparents have many stories to share. Finding ways to document those stories isn’t as difficult or expensive as it used to me. Largely thanks to technology.

Here are a few activities the life enrichment teams from Heritage Senior Communities across the state of Michigan thought might help your family build memories.

  1. Create a video diary. This can be a simple way to chronicle grandparents’ lives. It can be done with something as easy to use as the video camera on an iPhone or an inexpensive Flip Camera. Your children can come up with a list of questions to ask their grandparents beforehand. Ones that will get them talking about their lives. Then you can schedule a time for the “interview”. Consider having a friend do the taping so both you and your children can be in the video with their grandparents.
  2. Design a digital scrapbook. Technology has made this so easy to do! You can start by pulling out the box of old photos that almost every family has stored somewhere. Go through the photos with your children and your parents. It is a great way to reminisce and for your children to learn more about their family history. Take notes about the photos that seem most meaningful. Then you can scan the photos and use a digital software program to create the book. You can use the notes you’ve taken to tell the story behind each photo.
  3. Author a Family Cookbook. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think their grandmother is the best cook ever? This would be a great project to could include the extended family in, too. Have everyone share their favorite family recipes –including the grandparents—and put them all together in a cookbook. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are family cookbook programs that start as low as $25.
  4. Create a Family Tree. Start this fun project by outlining your family history on craft paper or large poster board. Some suggested information to include on each family member would be their full name, date and location of their birth, and date they were married. Once you have that completed, you can decide how elaborate you want the tree to be. You could create an almost life-sized tree on craft paper with each branch of the family represented. You could scan old photos and print them out to glue to the tree. Or you could use a site like Ancestry.com to create a digital family tree.
  5. Build an Old-Fashioned Scrapbook. Not everything has to involve technology! In fact, this is one low tech activity that most kids never get tired of doing. Your parents and your children might enjoy creating a scrapbook full of family photos, treasures, souvenirs, and handwritten descriptions. Local craft stores such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby have a variety of papers, binders, fancy scissors, stickers and stamps that you can use.

We hope these suggestions help your family get started on a project of your own this summer. Your parents and your kids will enjoy the time they spend making their treasure together. And, equally as important, they will create a keepsake to one day share with their own children.

Has your family created any digital scrapbooks or cookbooks?

We’d love to hear your ideas in the Comment section below!

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