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How to keep your brain active

Aging can be a scary thing. Not only are we getting older physically, but also mentally. Age can play a big part in how are brains are functioning, and we are all too aware of the risks of Alzheimer’s and other memory diseases that come with age.

Although we can’t prevent Alzheimer’s or Dementia, there are ways we can continue to “work out” our brains and keep them active. Just because you’re not working or not in school, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to learn and grow yourself mentally.

Here at Just Like Family, we want to help keep you as healthy as possible, whether that’s with our companions coming over to help prepare a meal, or getting you up and out for a walk or stretching.

We’re going to go over a few ways you can keep your brain active, so you stay mentally healthy for as long as possible.

brain changers.jpg

Via Antiaging Nootropics

Lifelong Learning

You may have been out of school for a few decades, but don’t let that stop you from continuing to learn. Although you despised a certain subject at school, now you have the freedom to learn whatever you want!

The access to the library and internet, the possibilities to learn just about anything are endless.

Think up a subject you’re curious about and see what resources you can find from books to online courses to local college classes you can sit in on to lectures.

Here are some topics you can dive into:

  • American history
  • World Wars
  • Basic Computers
  • Space
  • Languages
  • Gardening

Read More

If you’re retired, there’s no excuse not to be reading more. With access to the library, you can get pretty much any book you could ever want.

Or pick up a Kindle. Many libraries offer free digital rentals of books that you can do right from your home.

Read a mix of fiction and non-fiction. If a book doesn’t grab you and you feel that you are dreading finishing it, then stop! Just because you pick up a book doesn’t mean you necessarily need to finish it. Reading should be fun, find books that engage you.

Do Puzzles

Puzzles are a great way to keep your mind active. These include crosswords, Sudoku, Ken Ken, and even plain old jigsaw puzzles. You can pick up many of these at the dollar store, even a 500 piece puzzle is just $1!

Play Games

Games make you think. Find some games you can play either on your own or get a group together to play. Get board games or apps.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Settlers of Catan (board game)
  • 2048 (app)
  • Dots (app)
  • Cut the Rope (app)
  • Chess

Memory Exercises

Truly exercise your brain with some memory challenges. From Everyday Health, these can include:

  • Drawing a map from memory
  • Creating word pictures
  • Learning a new language
  • Refining your hand-eye ability (Painting, drawing, knitting)
  • Doing math in your head
  • Testing your recall

More Resources

Learn more about keeping your mind active with these resources.

6 simple steps to keep your mind sharp at any age | Harvard Medical School

Stay Mentally Active | ALZ.org

The Changing Brain in Healthy Aging | National Institute on Aging

 

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Do seniors need smartphones?

mobile

It seems that the older generation loves to reminisce on the times when we didn’t have screens to stare at constantly. Smartphones can cause car accidents, people walk into streets, and people are consumed in their own little bubbles.

But technology can also be seen as a way to connect. Pew Research states that 82% of smartphone-owning seniors describe their phone as freeing. Only 64% of those ages 18-29 have the same sentiment. Even fewer elderly smartphone owners (18%) describe their phone as “a leash” compared to double (36%) of those under age 30.

Why is it that the elderly and young people view this technology so differently? Is it important for seniors to start using and embracing this technology even if it may seem overwhelming or difficult to use?

How do we use our smartphones?

This isn’t about necessarily “how to use a smartphone”, we want to discuss the role smartphones play in our lives. Pew Research Center found that younger adults use their phones for a wide range of purposed such as to relieve boredom and to avoid those around them. Older Americans mainly use their phones for basic features like calls, email, and texting.

The reason is likely that older Americans are less likely to be online. Also, only 27% of those ages 65 and older have a smartphone compared to 85% of 18-19 year olds.

Another reason seniors tend to use just the basic functions of their phones is due to medical conditions like poor eyesight or hearing that make it difficult to use other features. Pew also stated that many older Americans are skeptical of the benefits of having a smartphone.

But that doesn’t mean all seniors are Luddites. Their study showed that in 2014, half of seniors using the internet were on Facebook.

Why use a smartphone?

Yes, the smartphone has been to blame for young people not connecting with those around them, but the smartphone has many beneficial features that are not as news-worthy as a teen walking into the street while playing on their phone.

These beneficial features include:

  • Video calls
  • Camera
  • Access to real-time news (Twitter, news apps)
  • Mobile banking and payments
  • Maps and navigation (Google Maps)

 

What will get more seniors to use smartphones?

One answer is education.

Smartphones don’t come with user manuals, and even if they did it would still be overwhelming and confusing to use the device especially if it’s your first time.

Getting educators into nursing homes or senior centers, hosting community smartphone sessions at the library are great ways to show seniors the benefits of learning to use one.

Once they’re able to see that they can Skype their kids and relatives, and are able to figure out how to use it, they may want to jump on board.

But don’t pressure them. They’ve lived nearly their entire lives without one, and many will put their foot down about getting one. The next best solution is to get them a senior-friendly phone. There are some available with large buttons and screens that display big numbers for easier visibility.


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Great Summer Board Games

It’s summer! That means the kids are off and they’re already bored. You try taking them to the park, but it gets hot so quickly. You take them to the pool, but that gets old after a few days. What else is there to do when kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, neighbors come over? It’s time to pull out the board games! There are so many, which one is just right? We’ll go through some great games for families, some for seniors, and some just for kids. Hopefully you find one that will keep your family occupied, even if just for a few hours.

Family Board Games
You went to visit family, or they came to you. Sometimes it’s hard to decide on something everyone can enjoy. Board games are great for all ages. Here are a few that are fun for adults and kids alike.

Life
If only life was like a board game. In Life, you go through the typical life stages: teen, adult, old age. Throughout, you experience highs and lows. Some will end up with a mansion, great job, and family. Others may end up in a shack, with a lousy job, and too many kids. Spin the wheel of Life and see where you end up.
Players: 2-6
Age range: 9 to adult
Playing time: About 45 mins.

Clue
Everyone knows Clue! It’s the game where you try to find the perpetrator of a murder. Everyone gets a character to play and people try to guess who the murderer is. It’s a fun “whodunit” type game for the family.
Players: 2-6 or 3-6
Age range: 8 to adult
Playing time: 15-60 minutes

Adult Games

Trivial Pursuit
Think you’re a knowitall? Test your knowledge of all things from pop culture to science to history. Trivial Pursuit has been around a while, but it’s still a fun group game.
Players: 2-6
Age range: 15 and up
Playing time: Varies

Taboo
This game is fun with older children and adults. You have a partner or teammates, and one person picks up a card. That person must try to get their partners to guess the word. But this is where it gets tricky. The cards have taboo words that you can’t say. For instance, the word is Fourth of July, the taboo words may be Independence Day, BBQ, grilling, summer, hot dogs, hamburgers. It gets hard, so you have to be creative.
Players: 4 +
Age range: 12 and up
Playing time: 10-30 minutes