As we age, memory and recall becomes harder.

On the face of it, that’s not surprising.

Those of us in our golden years have been blessed with a wealth of lifetime experiences, but, as with anything in life, those memories need to be kept somewhere.

It can sometimes feel like our mind is running out of storage, as we struggle to recollect things that have happened or things that we’ve done over the years. Even everyday aspects become trickier to remember.

The mind, however, is well equipped to cope. To harness its potential, you just need to exercise it regularly. The brain is often overlooked when it comes to a workout, with most of us focusing on exercise in the physical sense. But while this is important, it’s equally important to ensure we don’t neglect our minds.

In our golden years exercising the mind becomes ever more essential, as in retirement we don’t have the day-to-day challenges of working life to keep us sharp.

So, what can we do then to hone our mental faculties?

Test them

Our minds thrive on challenge. Write a list of everyday objects and try to memorise them. Then, give yourself an hour or two and try to remember as many things on the list as possible. Start off with shorter lists, and as your mind rises to the challenge, make the list longer and more complicated (if you wish). Even in old age your brain responds to challenge, so try to test it as often as you can.

Get musical

Musical instruments are wonderful ways to stave off the effects of ageing on cognitive function. If you’re lucky enough to already play an instrument; keep it up. However, if you don’t, perhaps consider taking one up.

In a previous blog, we highlighted that the outdated attitude of ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is nonsense. You can learn something new at any age, just perhaps opt for a more straightforward instrument to begin with, such as a ukulele, harmonica – or even bongos! Piano too is easier to learn than it might at first appear. The common theme though, is that all require concentration and thought to produce a decent tune.

Alternatively, why not try singing? Joining a choir can provide a lovely social element as well as offering a vocal challenge to get to grips with.

Learn another language

We’re not suggesting you look to become fluent in Mandarin, but even learning simple phrases from another language can help. Many of us learnt a second language in our school days, and it often doesn’t take much to awaken long forgotten words and expressions.

Even if you’ve never attempted to learn a language before, there’s no better time to start than now. Our nearest neighbour, France, offers a great starting point. With Latin derivatives offering many similarities, French can be a good beginners option thanks to its familiarity.

Consider looking further north to Scandinavia too. Languages that aren’t commonly learnt in school but regarded as relatively easy to learn are Danish and Norwegian thanks to their comparative grammatical simplicity.

Pick a language in line with the difficulty of the challenge you want to set yourself.

Test your taste

Again, the palette dulls as we age and food increasingly loses its flavour. However, try to recall the taste of certain ingredients in your food and determine their source. Identifying individual tastes can help to work out specific ingredients, with the process of thinking this through helping to improve cognitive function.

We pride ourselves on our delicious food at Goatacre, so there’s plenty of opportunity to attempt this at meal times.

Take up a new hobby

Another thing we’ve blogged about is taking up new hobbies. Not only can this offer physical benefits, depending on what you’ve opted for, but it also boosts brain power thanks to the challenge of learning something new.

In addition to the above, there are plenty of apps out there that you can download to help with brain training and presenting mentally stimulating tasks. Staying engaged with technology is important in our golden years, and this is just one benefit of doing so.

Our care staff work hard to support our residents in their endeavours and are delighted to help them undertake new activities. Get in touch with us to learn more about our culture of care.

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