How Brain Training Activities Benefit Seniors With Disabilities

Discover why such training can help the elderly stay mentally sharp

senior man doing crossword puzzle
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Increasing numbers of aging baby boomers are turning to brain training activities to help them stay mentally alert and retain memories during their golden years. Brain training is stimulating a whole new marketing binge that promotes high-tech training devices to middle-aged people and senior citizens alike.

Learn more about brain training, the science that supports it and ways you can train your brain at home with objects you probably already have around the house.

What Brain Training Involves

Brain training involves puzzle and game-like activities available in computerized programs, handheld gaming devices and PDAs, flashcards and book formats. Brain training activities are designed to stimulate thinking skills and problem solving. Accordingly, they offer potential benefits to elderly people, especially those with learning disabilities 

What Research About Brain Training Has Found 

Current research in neurology using magnetic resonance imagery has shown that daily training activities improved memory, even in persons with brain impairments. Some researchers theorize that these daily activities improve blood flow to the brain, improve overall brain functioning and possibly slow the effects of aging.

Activities may improve visual reasoning, verbal and nonverbal reasoning skills, memory, thinking skills, attention, concentration and response time. Researchers stress that to get the full benefits of brain training programs, consistency is key.

Regular, daily practice for several minutes is the key to producing lasting and long-term benefits.

Which Commercial Brain Training Programs Are Available?

From low-tech to high-tech, there's no shortage of commercial brain training programs available to the public. If you're interested in trying out a program, consider checking out Nintendo Brain Age 2, which works with Nintendo DS systems.

There's also the "The 10 Minute Brain Workout," a book of logic puzzles, tips, and games that includes an explanation of how these activities affect your brain and build thinking capacity. In other words, as you train your brain, you can also find out the benefits of doing so and why the activities in the book help.

What You Can Do at Home to Train Your Brain 

Commercial brain training producers say that their programs are more effective than strategies you may use at home. However, educational research shows that daily practice with educational games and activities helps learners of all ages. Logically, activities you choose for yourself are likely to produce some benefit. Try the following:

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Find-a-Word puzzles
  • Sudoku
  • Read your favorite literature or newspapers.
  • Puzzles on About.com - They're free!
  • Play video games with your kids or grandkids.
  • Play board games with your kids.

Wrapping Up

Aging is an inevitable part of life, and with aging often comes memory loss, slower response times and mental sharpness.

Brain training activities may delay the onset of such problems or reduce the rate at which they grow, but this training can't work miracles. With that in mind, keep your expectations realistic as your engage in brain training methods. 

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