Dementia often affects older citizens in our community, after age 60 it becomes increasingly common and 30% of people aged over 85 struggle with the disease. Simply put, dementia is the decline in mental ability severe enough to affect or interfere with an individuals’ day-to-day life. This can be seen through things such as memory loss, poor concentration, worsening of social skills, mood swings or even difficulty in keeping safe with appliances. Luckily it’s not all doom and gloom! There have been many studies that suggest we can all prevent or delay the affects of dementia. The key is to stay mentally active.

One recent study, using participants aged over 65, strongly showed that people who took part in 10 brain-training sessions experienced improvement in their mental skills and continued to experience these skills for at least 5 years. By doing so, they also improved at other everyday tasks such as housework, communicating and managing money. Although nothing can guarantee the avoidance of dementia, the good news is that people who regularly challenge their minds are less susceptible to significant declines in their mental ability.  Focusing on memory, reasoning and processing information are great ways to keep your mind active. Here is a range of activities that anybody can use as brain exercises.

 1 – Do activities with your non-dominant hand; seems strange, and it is! It might sound crazy, but by doing this we force our brain to think more consciously about what we are doing. Any normal activity will work, for example eating with your left hand every now and then.

2 – Work on crosswords or number puzzles; brain games are a great way to stimulate cognition. Sudoku for example, is a game of logic, problem solving and spotting patterns with numbers. Games like Sudoku or simple crosswords are perfect for easy mental exercise. Not only do they stimulate the brain, but also they give people a sense of satisfaction upon completing difficult puzzles.

3 – Play board games with your kids or grandkids. Or get together with your friends to play a weekly game of cards.  Rotate or change games to keep it interesting. Activities like these are not only good for mental stimulation, but they also encourage socialising and continued use of communication skills.

 4 – Play video games; yes, we said video games… This one might not be for everyone but engaging in video games actually has plenty of benefits. It can lead to improvements in reaction times and hand-eye coordination. Improving spatial awareness and the ability to manipulate objects, video game assists in preventing the functional affects of dementia such as keeping safe with appliances.

5 – Refine your hand-eye coordination; Take up a new hobby that challenges your fine motor skills. Whether it is knitting, painting or woodwork, doing hobbies like these require concentration and engagement from both your mind and body. Also, you might surprise yourself with a hidden talent.

 6 – Learn a new sport; in particular a sport that uses mind and body such as yoga, tennis, golf or water aerobics. Being active is important in maintaining an overall healthy physical and mental lifestyle.

Experts predict that within the next decade, brain wellness will be just as important as heart health is today. These activities are steps we can all start taking today to keep our minds challenged. By committing to brain training exercises individuals can improve their memory, reactions and ability to process information. These actions will lead to the prevention and delay of dementia in aged citizens. Start today!