11 brain stimulator activities to prevent memory loss

Getting older is something we should celebrate; the golden years and retirement are all about relaxation and taking time to enjoy life without work. However, with age comes the risk of developing dementia.1

While you can’t do anything about getting older, you can reduce your risk of memory loss in other ways. Staying physically active, eating a good diet, managing stress, and sleeping well are some of the top ways to reduce the risk of memory loss.

In addition, staying mentally active by learning new things and keeping yourself challenged mentally can also help lower the risk of memory loss.

To help you get started, we have put together a list of the top brain-stimulating games and activities you should try out.

Read books and magazines

Instead of watching hours of television, why not read a good book or find a hobbyist magazine? You could try out a new genre of literature, or find a collection of magazines on a topic you have always been interested in. Reading keeps your brain stimulated with new ideas and vocabulary, and can reduce physical lesions that can cause memory loss.2

Pursue arts and crafts

Pursuing an artistic hobby like painting, quilting, pottery or woodwork can help boost cognitive ability and reduce memory loss. You can also try other types of arts and crafts like drawing and sculpture to keep your brain stimulated.3

Do crosswords and word-search games

Daily crossword and word-search games are great brain-stimulating exercises because they force you to keep your mind active and challenged. Memory and recall, literacy, and reading skills are all necessary to complete a crossword or a word-search game.4

Play Sudoku

Sudoku can boost brain functioning and reduce the risk of memory loss as it exercises your problem-solving and critical thinking skills. You can play Sudoku by yourself or even create your own puzzles by using pictures, colours, and other figures instead of numbers. You can also make it harder or easier for yourself by reducing the number of blanks or clues.4

Practice daily memory strategies

Look for ways to incorporate memory strategies into your daily life and you may find yourself sharpening your mind and reducing your risk of memory loss. Develop your powers of concentration by routinely paying close attention to things around you during the day.

You can also boost recall through something as simple as repetition. Keep repeating an idea to yourself and rehearsing the thought or memory of what you need to remember. You can boost memory by making a mental picture and visualising what you want to remember, and using pattern recognition and associations such as rhymes or colours.

Avoiding an overload of information or mental processes is another way to enhance your memory. Work with one set of information at a time, take notes if there is too much to remember, and break things up into sub-groups for learning. These techniques can be used for everything from remembering where you parked the car, to shopping lists for a trip to the supermarket.5

Play brain-training games

Online brain-training games like Lumosity provide brain stimulation and can help you boost your memory.6 These types of games are designed to help you work out your memory muscles, prolong attention, engage problem-solving skills, and improve things like processing speed and flexibility. You can also try using an app or other online brain-training games like quizzes, BrainBashers, Games for the Brain, and Cognitive Fun.7

Play chess or checkers

Board games like chess and checkers force you to strategise and think up different moves and combinations, working your powers of analysis. Because you play against a competitor in these games, you need to think quickly and plan your moves in advance, exercising your brain. Exercising creativity and problem-solving, and participating in social engagement, are some of the other benefits of games like chess and checkers.8

Play picture-matching games

Use flashcards, printed pictures, and sets of cards for a fun, relaxing game of picture matching. These types of games can boost brain function, visual processing, and concentration.4

Learn a new language

Learning a new language can help you exercise a range of brain muscles including analysis and memory recall, and auditory functions. Whether it's French, Spanish, Chinese or Japanese, your brain will be stimulated by the intensive learning process of mastering a whole new language.9

Learn a musical instrument

If you've always wanted to learn to play the piano, cello, or some other instrument, why not book a lesson? Musical training can boost brain function, long-term memory, and alertness, and it might have a unique impact because of the emotional nature of our connection with music. Other benefits include enhanced verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy skills.10

Stay physically active

As you work your brain with games and activities, remember to eat well, stay engaged socially, and keep up your physical activity. Aerobic activity has a proven link with brain health, and it is never too late to get started. Your brain cells can regenerate in incredible ways, and physical exercise can support regeneration, which will improve memory capacity.11

Have fun while exercising your brain

When it comes to fighting memory loss, find something brain stimulating you will enjoy. Whether it’s arts and crafts, brain games, or learning a new language, you can reduce the risk of memory loss and enhance your brain power by trying out these activities. By staying physically active as well as working out your brain regularly, you will give yourself the best chance to stay mentally and physically fit in your senior years.

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