Millions of people in the U.S. live with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), most of which are aged 65+. When an aging loved one in your family is diagnosed with MCI, watching them struggle with memory loss can be an emotional experience. Thankfully, there are several proven ways to help prevent cognitive decline or, at the very least, slow its progression. As a family caregiver, these brain-training tips help seniors remain active and healthy.
Understanding Cognitive Decline
As a more serious form of cognitive decline, dementia describes a group of symptoms that affect memory, social skills, and cognitive abilities in ways that interfere with a person’s daily activities. Although dementia isn’t one specific disease, several different diseases can cause it.
For example, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of progressive dementia in older adults. And even though dementia typically causes memory loss, memory loss itself can have different causes.
Brain-Teasing Activities for Seniors
Eating brain-healthy foods, exercising regularly, staying connected with others, and getting plenty of sleep are all positives for senior cognitive health. On the other hand, social isolation and loneliness have been linked to cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
In addition to healthy lifestyle choices, these brain-teasing activities are great for stimulating the minds of older adults with or without MCI:
Watching nostalgic TV shows and movies
Your parents or grandparents probably grew up watching television shows like Gunsmoke, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Gilligan’s Island. They may also enjoy viewing classic movies, all of which can be found on popular networks and streaming services. Watching old TV shows and movies is the perfect way to stimulate the mind of your loved ones while creating new memories that last a lifetime.
Playing vintage board games
As another entertainment idea that doesn’t require a lot of focus or attention, playing vintage board games as a family is another fun way to involve elderly members. Some of the best board games for seniors with MCI include Jenga, Qwirkle, Backgammon, Bingo, Yahtzee, Uno, and Checkers.
Listening to retro music
Vinyl albums are back in style, so pull out those old records and share them with your loved ones. After all, music brings back pleasant memories like nothing else. If vinyl records aren’t your thing, ask Alexa to select some vintage songs from your mom or dad’s past or use a free online service like Online Radio Box to play some of their favorite tunes.
Better yet, ask them to dance and then watch their face light up as they fondly remember dancing the night away in the arms of a special someone many years ago.
Other family activities
Other mind-stimulating activities you can do with older family members include:
- Bake cookies or other treats
- Look at family photo albums
- Watch old home movies
- Do a hobby together
- Video-record the person answering questions about their life, including their favorite experiences growing up
- Take a walk at a park or nature area
- Go fishing
- Plant flowers or tend a garden
- Feed birds with a bird feeder and watch them from the window
- People watch while sitting on a bench or swing
- Have a picnic in the park or backyard
- Share morning coffee on the deck or patio
Make a memory box
Notably beneficial for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, a memory box is an actual box filled with items reminiscent of a given era. Using a shoebox or comparable container, place photographs, postcards, small toys, old newspaper articles, etc., inside. Then, use the memory box to encourage your loved one to talk about the items, along with many happy memories related to those items they might have.
An Extended Family in Your Senior’s Home
Keeping your aging loved one’s mind stimulated isn’t always easy with everything else on your “plate.” At HomeChoice Home Care Solutions, we deliver peace of mind to clients and their families by providing compassionate and dependable in-home care that’s second to none. Our top-notch caregivers and office staff provide personal levels of care that will make you and your loved one feel like family – because you are.
At HomeChoice Home Care Solutions, our mission is to enrich the lives of those we serve by providing caring, compassionate, and wellness-focused in-home care within a supportive environment that allows everyone involved to thrive. To schedule a FREE Care Consultation for a senior in Raleigh, Durham, or Cary, NC, today, please visit us at www.homechoicehomecare.com.