By Haley Burress United States
Your morning exercise program helps residents gain strength and weekly yoga classes help them increase their range of motion. But do you have a brain exercise program in place?
Brain exercises are just as important as physical exercise for our residents. Learn a bit more about neurobics and why these interventions are key to keeping brains fit!
You have heard of aerobic exercises, but did you know there was an entirely different category of brain exercises? The term neurobics is used to describe the the science behind brain exercise. Neurobic brain exercises are meant to decrease memory loss and increase the ease of taking in (and then using) new information. In order to work its very best, the brain needs to practice and get better in a variety of skills.
Consider exercise and the physical body. You run around the block to give your heart the chance to practice getting stronger. You do pushups to increase your upper body strength. You do yoga to improve range of motion. Each of these exercises gives specific body parts the chance to practice and improve. Similarly, neurobic exercises give the different parts of your brain the chance to practice and improve as well.
Chances are, you are already incorporating some brain games in your monthly calendar. In most communities, trivia groups are quite popular and well attended! However, if you want to incorporate more neurobic exercises for your residents to try, you can’t rely solely on trivia. Neurobic exercises are aimed at strengthening the brain, giving it the chance to make new connections and create new pathways. This steers beyond recalling trivia facts.
For example, neurobic exercises encourage disruption of routine. When we do something out of routine, our brain can check out of the process and not work as hard. Have you ever driven to work and couldn’t necessarily remember how you got there? That’s a great example of your brain checking out, thanks to a routine. When you break a routine, your brain has to pay attention and work.
You can break routine with your residents by:
Learning new things is crucial to overall brain health, so it is no surprise that new learning is a neurobic brain activity. When the brain takes in new information, it gets practice in making new connections to interpret and retain that information.
You can encourage new learning with your residents by:
As Activity Professionals, we typically associate sensory stimulation as an intervention for residents living with dementia. However, when your brain must interpret more than one sense at a time during an activity, it creates new neural pathways and connections.
You can incorporate sensory stimulation into your “regular” activities by:
Your brain has different parts, all made to do different functions. Unfortunately, even the most experienced Activity Professionals can forget to plan activities that use all parts of the brain. For example, the parietal lobe of the brain is responsible for spatial perception while the temporal lobe of the brain is responsible for organization. When you pack the trunk of your car before a big trip, you must use both of these lobes in order to fit every suitcase in before you close the door.
You can encourage residents to use all parts of their brain by:
Your residents already love their trivia groups, finish the lyric activities, and other popular brain games. However, you can make your brain game even stronger by incorporating a few neurobic based activities each week in your community. Your residents will enjoy the challenge and you will take pride in knowing you are offering science-based interventions that will increase their brain activity.
How do you incorporate neurobic activity interventions into your week already? Let’s share some ideas with one another!