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From the Neighborhood Press

Keeping an Active Mind

It’s April. The time to get outside and enjoy some sunshine here in Oklahoma City. Staying physically active and being out in nature is great for the brain too, according to experts. But sometimes, the weather can still be a little unpredictable. There may be rain showers or the temperature might dip. When it’s time to go back indoors and visit inside, encourage your elderly senior to get engaged in mind stimulating activities. Keeping the mind active can be rewarding for seniors and can give them a sense of accomplishment and growth. Here are some ideas you can consider the next time you visit them.

First, it’s a good idea to spend some time getting to know your senior family member if you haven’t had the opportunity to visit lately. Just spend some time talking to them, and you’ll get a better sense of what activities they might enjoy. Perhaps even bring up a few ideas and see how they react. If your loved one lives in an assisted living or nursing home, talk to their caregivers for some activity ideas. They’ll know what your family member or friend is capable of and may have some valuable input. Seniors in memory care may have a set routine and special mind stimulating games or exercises. You can use encourage them by getting involved and participating in some of these daily activities. Ask how you can best help.

Games. Many seniors love playing games, whether board games, cards or word puzzles. Start out with something they love. Even a game a simple as Uno or Rummikub can be fun and beneficial to keep the mind active. Later, you can try introducing a new game. Learning new rules, goals and strategies will likely be challenging at first. Just make sure the game isn’t too complex or time consuming. Some adult communities offer game nights or afternoons to help their residents socialize and have a good time. Encourage your loved one to participate!

Adult coloring books

Believe it or not, many adults use coloring books to relax and show their creative side. There is nothing like a fresh box of crayons or coloring pencils as you make a page come alive with color. Coloring books for adults can come in many different varieties. For example, if your loved one enjoys birding, you could find a coloring book featuring different bird types. Coloring can help bring back memories and some people find coloring has a calming effect on them. However, it’s not for everyone. You’ll just have to find out if it’s Grandma’s cup of tea.

Word or number puzzles. You can find activity books for all ages and at various levels of cognitive ability. Many seniors still have a very active mind, even if they find themselves in a supportive care setting. Crossword puzzles are especially popular among some seniors. If this is the case, you can find a whole book of them organized by different categories. Or download an app for them so they can play word games on their iPad! Some apps are interactive so you can even find activities where you can connect and play with them from a distance! Sometimes whole families get involved.

Something educational. Learning something new can be very rewarding to seniors and help keep minds active. It doesn’t have to be as hard as learning a new language, although there are some fun foreign language apps such as Rosetta Stone you could introduce them to. Instead, consider finding a cultural or scientific series for them to watch on their iPad, or watch it together using their TV screen. You can find travel shows, documentaries on animals around the world, or other topics they might be interested in. Many seniors can no longer travel much, and learning new things about their world can be exciting. It can be a positive break from watching the news.

Finding the right activities to help engage your senior’s mind is key. Some seniors have vision or hearing deficits, so be sure to keep this in mind. To keep it fun, bring something tasty along you can both enjoy as you play games or watch a documentary. It’s fun to munch on popcorn or sip on coffee as you contemplate your next Rummikub move!

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