November 30, 2012

Seven Exercises to Prevent Memory Loss

I know: lists you find on the internet are often pretty stupid.

This time, I came across a list on AgingCare.com, a site for people taking care of their aging parents. It was part of an article titled "Prevent Memory Loss: Exercise Your Brain to Keep Your Mind Active." The list was created by Sue Maxwell, who heads the Lee Memory Care Clinic, in Ft. Myers, Florida. The facility provides evaluation, treatment, family counseling, and community outreach for people affected by memory loss. There are even one or two ideas here that I might try.

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It is very important to keep your brain active. Here are some simple exercises that take a few minutes out of your day and help prevent memory loss.
  • The obvious one: play games. Any board game is OK such as Clue, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, Monopoly, Pictionary to name a few. Card games are also very important. Or, computer games. It is important to have your brain do new things and not just do the same thing over and over like playing Bridge, or crossword puzzles. Most importantly, have fun while exercising the brain.
  • Switch it up. Here is a fun way, but challenging way to exercise the brain: If you wear your watch on the right hand, switch it to the left. Every week change your watch from wrist to wrist. Teach the brain to look at everyday things differently. Even think about a different way to drive to church, grocery store and work—get out of the ho-hum of doing the same thing the same way every day. Stop being a creature of habit. This one is guaranteed results!
  • Switch sides. Try this one: If you are right-handed, try writing with your left and vice a versa. Shave with your other hand or blow dry your hair with the non-dominant hand and see what has to happen for the brain to complete this exercise. Change hands with the phone. If you always talk on the phone with the same ear, then try the other one. The brain hears differently in each ear.
  • Go back in time. Pick an activity that you used to do in the past like playing jacks, shooting pool or maybe even jump rope or hula hoop. Don't be surprised if you need some extra practice. Most of all have fun and keep with the new activity until your skills return.
  • Learn a new activity. How about line dancing? It requires you to remember the steps – which takes mind-body-coordination and its fun. Any type of dancing accomplishes the same memory goal: learn and remember new steps, body positions and techniques. Other new endeavors: golf, chess, or take an adult education class at the local community college.
  • Practice active listening. Sit in the living room while watching TV and close your eyes. Use all the senses to understand the world around you. After the program has concluded, then go back in your mind and state how you felt and repeat what your heard. Paying attention without any other interruptions is very important — try not to multi-task.
  • Be good to yourself. Eat healthy foods... add nuts, berries and fish rich in omega-3 oils. Try drinking green tea in the afternoon for a boost. Give up those snacks rich in carbs and fats. In addition, walking is one of the best forms of exercise and doesn't cost one penny. So get off the coach and dust off those sneakers and head out for a brisk walk.
You will be amazed at how simple it is to exercise your brain and stimulate neurons and dendrites on the opposite side of your brain.

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