Can you help your brain stay healthy as you age by doing things that challenge your mind? Could that also help you avoid memory loss, or even prevent or delay dementia such as Alzheimer’s? Scientists need to do more research to find out for sure. But a number of studies show there are benefits to staying mentally active.
Can Brain Exercises Help Delay Memory Loss?
Medical research shows when people keep their minds active their thinking skills are less likely to decline. Games, puzzles and other types of brain training may help slow memory loss and other mental problems.
One study involved more than 2,800 adults 65 and older who participated in brain-training sessions for five to six weeks. The sessions focused on tactics for memory, reasoning and the speed of processing information. People who took the training showed improvement in these skills that lasted for at least five years. They also improved at everyday tasks, such as the ability to manage money and do housework. People who regularly challenge their minds may spend a shorter part of their lives in a state of decline, even if they do get Alzheimer’s.
How Does Brain Activity Help?
Studies show that engaging the mind may:
- Reduce the amount of brain cell damage that happens with Alzheimer’s
- Support the growth of new nerve cells
- Prompt nerve cells to send messages to each other
When you keep your brain active with exercises or other tasks, you may help build up a reserve supply of brain cells and links between them. You may even grow new brain cells. Experts feel extra mental activity from education may protect the brain by strengthening
connections between its cells. Neither education nor brain exercises are sure ways to prevent Alzheimer’s, but they may help delay symptoms and keep the mind working better for longer.
Senior Services is proud to offer a new class to our Memory Support programs—Minds in Motion—an innovative program focusing on brain training and cognitive gaming. It is designed for those experiencing mild memory changes. Benefits of this program can include improved concentration, faster processing, enhanced short term memory and opportunities for socialization and camaraderie.
A pilot session of Minds in Motion was implemented in summer 2016. Eight participants completed the ten week pilot course. Post-survey results indicated that 100% of participants felt their short term memory had improved and all individuals felt they gained knowledge on ways to keep their brain active. Post cognitive testing revealed that seven out of eight participants showed improvement by one point or greater on standardized testing designed for individuals living with mild cognitive loss. Overall, it was determined that the Minds in Motion class was successful, and proved to be a beneficial addition to the Senior Services’ early memory loss programs.
The next Minds in Motion class will start in January for a 12-week session. Memory screening is required to determine eligibility prior to session beginning.
Call 633-3700 to schedule your screening and learn more about Minds in Motion.