Ways to Challenge Your Brain

“Memory Matters” for ALL Ages  (PROGRAM LINK)

Research supports the fact that challenging your brain is an important component of successful aging. There are many ways to upgrade your current routine and increase the ways to challenge your brain with new activities.

Most people keep their brain active by doing their favorite activities like reading, puzzles, playing bridge, and the list goes on. What is needed, based on research, is to take it up a notch. That means doing something different and maybe getting out of your comfort zone. Attitude is part of the bigger picture here because it determines whether or not you are interested in expanding your options.

When you feel like you do when they change the layout in your grocery store, you are on the right track! Otherwise it is more like you are going on automatic pilot and your brain cells are not maximizing their activity level. Our tendency is to prefer the familiar but what you need to do is change it up and expand the variety of what you are doing.

Things you can put into your routine:

1. Learn a few phone numbers. There was a time for most of us when we were really good at recalling them. People often remember the phone numbers frequently dialed from years ago but with cell phones, new numbers do not need to be recalled. Pick one number a week to learn just in case you might need it.

2. Make it a point to learn a new name each week. Repeat the name several times in the conversation, associate it with someone from your past if that is helpful and write it down. When introduced to someone for the first time, repeat their name several times in the conversation. Many people complain they are not good with names when really they are not using the repetition and paying attention strategies.

3. Memorize the words to a favorite song, a poem that touches you or a joke. Try learning the state capitals or the presidents of the United States. Get involved with younger grandchildren when they need to memorize information. One gentleman’s bragging rights was that he learned to do the alphabet from Z to A as fast as most of us can do it from A to Z.

4. A simple game is to think of how many words start with a certain letter or belong in a category. Take it up a notch and think of words starting with 2 letters.

5.  One of my favorite activities to do with my patients is the A to Z  game. Write the letters down side of a piece of paper,  pick a topic and come up with a word or more for each letter. It can start out simple like names of people, things you associate with a season or a holiday, street names, cities or one of my favorite is thinking of things you are grateful for. Years ago I did one as a gift for my mom on Mother’s day by listing her positive qualities and had it framed. If the letters Q, X and Z are too much of a challenge in some categories just skip them or look it up. Take it up a notch and print the words with your non-dominant hand.

6. When you go grocery shopping mentally tally the cost of the items as you select them and see how close you come to the actual amount.

What are you doing to vary your routine? Keep in mind that the tendency is to do what is familiar and comfortable. Updating your workout can be done a few minutes here and there but the benefits are many. Find someone willing to do it with you. After one of my programs a mother and daughter decided that each evening they would share what they did that day with their non-dominant hand to see who was the most creative.

TO DO THIS WEEK:  Make an A to Z list and think of positive words that you want to use more frequently in your conversations.

“The brain is a muscle, and I’m a kind of body-builder. Karl Lagerfield

More Brain Game Options – Visit Brain Aerobics section

Information on Kathryn’s products and links to sample pages.   
Kathryn is available for private consultations as well as educational and training programs.  

About Kathryn Kilpatrick

Kathryn Kilpatrick received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1968 from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in a variety of settings, primarily in Ohio, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and for decades in the area of home health care. Kathryn is president of Memory Fitness Matters (www.memoryfitnessmatters.com) and Communication Connection(www.connectionsincommunication.com). She offers memory coaching for all ages and has a geriatric consulting practice. She is a national motivational speaker and author of more than 30 products to enhance communication and connection as well as a Memory Fitness Toolkit. Kathryn brings her decades of experience as a speech-language pathologist to all those wanting to enhance their quality of life, particularly when there are communication, memory and cognitive challenges. Her websites offer information on a wide variety of topics related to elder care concerns as well as memory fitness and successful aging.
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