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Posted by The Woodlands on September 15, 2022

Do you look forward to completing the weekly crossword puzzle in the newspaper? Do your hobbies include having Trivia Nights with friends? Are you a talented chess player or musician?

It might not feel like it while you’re doing these activities, but studies have shown that all of the above are sure ways to keep your mind active – while having fun! At The Woodlands at Canterfield, we understand how crucial it is to exercise the mind in order to stay sharp and focused. 

Our West Dundee senior living community offers five-star services, amenities and activities to ensure that each resident can easily prioritize their mental health. Below, our team is sharing a few ways to test your skills and train your brain.

Have Fun + Promote Cognitive Health

Cognitive skills are the habits and processes that the brain uses to remember and store information. These skills (thinking, memory, and concentration) can decline with age. Our brains are similar to any other muscle in our bodies – with exercise, they can be improved and kept healthy. 

You might be asking, “how do you exercise the brain?” A brain exercise doesn’t mean you have to participate in strenuous physical workouts or difficult exams. Instead, cognitive exercises are similar to the activities you already engage in every day.

Hobbies, games and even certain puzzle apps you might have on your phone are considered excellent ways to give your brain the workout it needs to strengthen those cognitive muscles. 

Take a look at the following examples to see if you’re already taking part in cognitive exercise – you might even discover your next favorite hobby!

Board Games

Research has proven that board games and trivia games are excellent ways to fend off cognitive decline. These activities help to maintain memory retention and mental function, thanks to the repetitive patterns, unique strategies and spelling or mathematic aspects that some include. Scrabble, Bingo, chess, Boggle, and even Monopoly are perfect examples.

These games are also great for socialization, which is crucial for mental health and function. Socializing with friends has been proven in many studies to increase cognitive abilities and retention. Since isolation is a factor that contributes to varying forms of dementia, staying social is also a vital prevention factor. 

Consider organizing a board game club or group in your community. Meet up with your neighbors and fellow senior living residents weekly and pick a new game to play at each meeting.

Trivia

Can you name the state capital of Illinois? How about all four members of the Beatles? If you got those questions correct, or you simply enjoy learning fun facts about history, geography, and entertainment, then trivia is right up your alley! It’s a great way to keep your mind sharp, but it also provides our brains with positive chemical benefits. 

Scientists have determined that when we play trivia and guess the correct answer to a question, we receive a rush of dopamine, a neuroreward signal associated with winning and success. 

In fact, according to John Kounios, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Drexel University, the neurological signals we receive in our brain when we get a trivia question correct are almost identical to that of gambling. Thankfully, trivia itself comes without any of the pitfalls or bad habits that gambling does: it’s simply a fun activity that boosts your knowledge and increases mind activity!

Similar to the board game club, a “Trivia Night” is a great idea to introduce to your community. Whether you want to purchase a Trivial Pursuit set or come up with interesting questions, get your community involved for a fun way to stay sharp!

Hobbies

Discovering new hobbies as we age can create a sense of fulfillment in our daily lives. Simple things like painting, playing a musical instrument, or even knitting allow us to explore our hidden talents and passions. By taking up new activities, you’re also improving your mind’s ability to retain new information and skills!

For instance, perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar but didn’t have time to take lessons when you were younger due to your career. Learning this new skill during retirement challenges your brain and boosts your cognitive abilities. Memory and concentration skills are utilized, and your brain retains and understands new information! 

This process goes along with many other hobbies. For example, when you take a painting or pottery class, the process of creating works of art benefits your brain in a similar way. Likewise, the small details of knitting or crocheting also positively impact your cognitive abilities. 

You’ll start noticing so many remarkable improvements when you exercise the mind. These practices will help you stay sharp, boost your mood, reduce stress and most importantly – have fun, all while taking care of your brain!

For more educational resources and to learn more about our brand-new West Dundee senior living community, visit our website or call us at 224-802-4388!

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