Memory jog a good thing for seniors

Published 2:24pm Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Virtually every day more research is focusing on issues impacting senior citizens. One recent example is a study that says keeping the mind active is a key to good health.

“As we age, we lose neurons, but these neurons can form new connections. Research is being conducted now to determine if new brain connections develop with mental and physical exercise. Many researchers already believe that is the case,” said Dr. Jim Wirth, human development specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

According to Wirth, the brain of a senior citizen is similar to the brain of a healthy young person. But, like muscles in our body, the brain can grow and change. The harder a person uses their brain, the more it grows and the healthier it becomes.

There are ways to compensate for age-related declines in working memory. For example, presenting information at a slower pace, organizing and elaborating gives time to process and establish links between new and previously learned information.

Wirth also suggests using exercises to improving specific mental functions.

For example, do a daily mental exercise each morning. You could begin the day by counting out loud backward from 100 or reciting the alphabet giving each letter a word.  Cross words puzzles and word searches activities also help to stimulate the brain.

Simple activities like setting the table in a different way, trying a new recipe, going to visit a place you have never been before or walking a different route also work the memory Many of the same activities that we use to stimulate the minds of young children can be fun and stimulating for us as older adults.

It is true that our brains change and slow as we age but most people do not have serious loss of memory or intelligence according to Wirth.  The key is to try and do something new to keep your brain and mind young.  So, it’s really important for all of us to jog our memories daily for good mental health.   Try out some of the activities mentioned and/or call and share some of the tips you have found beneficial and I will share with others Source: Dr. Jim Wirth, Extension Specialist

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