It’s no secret that keeping your brain active as you get older is incredibly important. It’s just as important, if not more so, than keeping physically active, although the two can go hand-in-hand. If you have an elderly relative, it’s easy to worry that they’re not keeping mentally active, so it might be down to you to give them some ideas.
With that in mind, here are some ways to keep an elderly person’s mind healthy…
Games and puzzles
Games and puzzles are probably the most obvious way to keep the brain active. There are those that are largely mental, such as crosswords or Sudoku, or there those that promote motor skills as well brain activity – a Rubik’s Cube, for example.
Believe it or not, computer games aren’t just for anti-social children or grown men who still live with their parents. Computer games are just as important as films and TV shows these days, and they can also be good for your brain. There are various ‘brain training’ games out there to help keep you brain active with puzzles and such, but playing pretty much any kind of computer game will keep you thinking and also promote motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Check out this study here for more on this.
Yoga is great for keeping supple and flexible at any age, but it also helps to promote brain activity more than other types of exercise. According to research, the controlled movement of transitioning through the poses and controlling breathing and balance requires much more concentration and attention than doing exercise such as running that requires little brain power. Yoga for older people isn’t such a crazy idea, and there are many care homes for the elderly that have this sort of thing as standard practice.
Just doing something as simple as reading is great for the brain, and it doesn’t really matter what you read. Just processing the written information is good for you brain, although it’s obviously better for you if you enjoy what you’re reading. Reading a gripping novel will get your imagination flowing, whilst reading the newspaper will likely be more of a mental challenge – depending on which newspaper it is, obviously!
Conversation with others
Like reading, just a simple chat can sometimes be all it takes to get the brain working, particularly if you’re having an in-depth discussion about something. It also combats loneliness, which is a major issue for the elderly. If you have an elderly loved one then just giving them a quick phone call one a day or every other day can work wonders and will make them happier too, which is always incredibly important.
Have you ever had a psychic reading? Your tarots cards or palms read? Looked into a crystal ball at a fair or used a psychic reader over the phone like TheCircle provide?
I haven’t. I’ve seen them at fairs and such like and been intrigued but never brave enough to go in. I’m not sure why. Out of fear that is would work or because I don’t think it would? A waste of time and money or a scary glimpse into the future that I don’t want to see?
Perhaps a spot of both. I have a hard time believing in anything that hasn’t been scientifically proven or that I haven’t had personal experience of and I am the sort to question everything – I don’t even believe in ghosts. I tried to do a ouija board once with friends but the letters were all written on bits of thin printer paper and I was laughing so hard that they all kept blowing away.
Which naturally made me laugh louder.
Yes, there may have been alcohol involved.
But I think the biggest fear is ‘what if?’ What if it does work? Do I want to know? I’m not convinced that knowing what is going to happen in the future is a healthy thing. However for now I think there are some things I can predict about the coming year that won’t surprise anyone.
5 Predictions for 2015
1. The build up to the general election in May will give some of us hope. Those of us who are sick of same party politics and middle-aged white rich men being in charge will start to see a chance to change things, to band together and try to make a difference. But ultimately we will end up with more of the same middle-aged white rich men in charge and life will be pretty much carry on as before for those of us not in the 1%. Well same as before only poorer and with less rights, no doubt.
2. There will be weather. Sometimes dull and fairly ordinary, other times spectacular and other worldly. During those times of imminent spectacular weather my local shop will run out of bread and toilet roll again. As though the residents of my little village believe they can live off toilet paper butties for the rest of eternity. Or perhaps they are planning to use them to soak up all the water in case of floods. Who knows?
3. Cancer will be once again tackled by a bizarre internet meme, which will enthrall millions and be reported on by Fox News but ultimately won’t do a damn thing for the treatment or prevention of cancer. Some famous people may get involved.
4. My children will grow every single time I buy them new clothes. I mean every time. New shoes, within 4 weeks they will be too small. New trousers? Oh look at that, you grew a foot over night. They will grow so fast I’ll consider leaving the tags in the clothes for a few weeks just in case. But when they fall over and hurt themselves they will still be my little babies.
5. At least once every month I will look at my kids and wonder at how together, grown up and clever they are. And at least twice a week I will look at them and wonder what on earth I thought I was doing when I started home schooling the crazy little hellions and how they are ever going to learn anything.
I think these are about the only things I can predict with any certainty. I shall leave any more future speculation to the professionals and will simply have to trust everything else to luck, hope and hard work.
It has got me wondering though, if someone could tell your future for the next 12 months, would you want to know? Would you like to know all of the good and bad that was coming your way or would you rather live in ignorance of what the year has in store for you? Have you ever used a psychic hotline or had experience with tarot or palm readers?
As I kneel in the bathroom scrubbing something that looks suspiciously like poop but I’m trying not to think about it off the wall, again, it occurs to me that you couldn’t pay people enough to do this job. Not the what-may-or-may-not-be-poop scrubbing, but the whole mum thing. Can you imagine the job description or indeed the interviews. I can’t imagine City Calling have much luck filling this one on their job site, can you?
Wanted: Full Time Master of Operations
Hours: ALL of them
Holidays: Ha ha ha ha
Job Description: Full time and long term, this position is working in a key role in a challenging, chaotic and often high-pressured environment. Candidates must be able to think on their feet, eat on their feet, sleep on their feet and have an inexhaustible knowledge of natural world trivia. Patience and a cheery demeanor must be shown at all times especially in the face of the question ‘why?’.
This is a very low profile role which vast swathes of society will mock, ridicule and talk down to. Don’t expect anyone at a party to want to talk to you once you have told them what your job is. Ha, only kidding, you won’t have the time, energy or money to go to parties.
Instead of partying or ever again socialising with people that don’t have children around similar age to your own, your working days will be filled with a vast array of tasks all of which will be urgent and to be completed 5 minutes ago. From chauffeur duties, event management, social calendar keeping, peacekeeping and fire-fighting (sometimes literally) to small gadget repair, minor plumbing work, first aid and emergency medical care, educational duties as well as sports and life coach services, your working day will rarely be dull but always filled with new and interesting tasks to be undertaken.
You will also be responsible for all cleaning tasks in your work environment. If necessary however you may employ your charges to help (well, it’s like help…) with minor cleaning tasks so long as you pay them out of your own pocket.
Weekend work, night work and extra hours/effort over holiday periods is essential and non-negotiable.
Skills Required: Infinite patience and a cheery demeanor are not the only skills required for this role, although they are the two key elements. Candidates must also possess an alarming knowledge on how everything works and why everything. The ability to go from 0 to 60mph in an instant is essential as are peacekeeping skills to rival any UN official.
Culinary skills are required for this role, and you will be expected to provide all of your own food as well as food for your charges that is visually appealing, nutritional and liked by everybody at the table. Good luck with that. Any electrical knowledge is a bonus as are horticultural skills, accounting, small toy assembly and IT knowledge.
Physical strength is a must for this role, candidates will be tested to make sure they can carry a minimum of 4 heavy shopping bags, 2 coats, a handbag full of food and drink and at least one small child under the arm whilst simultaneously bending down to retrieve a toy that is absolutely too heavy for a one of your charges to carry all on their own, let alone retrieve from the floor where they have just flung it.
Must have a strong constitution and not be averse to cleaning up urine, vomit or feces. Often from out of own hair or off the ceiling.
And just imagine what the job interviews would be like! Assuming of course anybody was daft enough to apply.
Image: Mikko Saari
We rent our current house. Which is quite handy really, considering how much is wrong with it. Bits leak or let in the wind or are somehow in a state of disrepair. The property needs a new roof I’ve been wearily informed by a builder who was under no illusions that the landlord would pay to have one fitted. It’s also an ice box – no amount of heating seems to stop your breath being visible in the winter months.
And so it is with trepidation that I am starting to look at new places to live. Hello rightmove, and what wonderful properties do you have for us this month? Any that don’t practically snow indoors?
I say trepidation because I am completely and utterly overwhelmed by the idea of having move every single thing we own from one building to another without losing, breaking, or giving up and abandoning anything.
I’ve never moved house before. Not in entirety. Not moving every stick of furniture, clothing and knicknacks I own. I’m terrified. Which adds much more pressure to the whole house moving thing, because until the day I can get a mortgage and buy my own home, I never want to move to again. Ever. And this is before I’ve packed one single item. The next house we choose has to be a doozy, a keeper. A lets-live-here-until-the-kids-leave-home-and-then-I-can-sell-everything-and-live-in-a-campervan-travelling-around-Europe, kind of home.
I know my own strengths and weaknesses and I’m just not organised enough for this moving stuff. But, by the same token, we can’t stay where we are – we will all end up with mold in our lungs or with a house collapsed about us if we stay. So I need help people, I need tips and ideas for moving.
I mean ideally I need an army of people to just come and move all my stuff whilst I sit by a pool somewhere sipping cocktails, but I’m willing to admit that’s not going to happen so tips, tricks and hacks are all welcome.
Unless of course you really do want to join an army of people that will move all my belongings whilst I sit by a pool. That’s okay too.
So hit me, what are your best house moving tips?
There are some things about having a boy that people just don’t prepare you for.
1. You will find yourself doing everything for them. Where as a girl is anxious to prove that she can cut her own food, pour her own drink and choose her own clothes, a boy will happily let you, nay demand that you do it for him, until he’s… well probably until such time as he finds a girlfriend willing to take over.
2. They will never flush a toilet. Ever. Even if they’ve just had the stinkiest shit in the history of man. Even if you specifically tell them to go back upstairs and flush. Never will it happen. Unless of course you are in the shower, then they will go wild in a flushing frenzy whilst you get scolded by the boiling water now washing over your body.
3. They will never be able to find anything. It could be the size of a house, right in front of them with neon flashing lights on it, if you have tasked them to find something they will instantly become blind to the very thing you want them to retrieve.
4. They smell. Even at six years old, any part of their body that can smell, will. Trainers will reek, bums will stink. The only way of ensuring that they don’t stink is to make them live permanently in the shower.
5. Getting them to brush their teeth is a Herculean task that many have failed at. Yes, they might stand in the bathroom for the required number of minutes, yes they might even pick up their toothbrush. There may even be an attempt at spreading toothpaste on their teeth, but unless you stand over them, watching, encouraging, demanding and at times threatening, you will never get them to actually move the toothbrush backwards and forwards over their teeth until they are clean.
6. They can only remember 2 things at a time, maximum. Should you be foolish enough to task them with three or four things to go upstairs and do you will likely find them half and hour later, dithering on the stairs, unable to remember what is was they were going upstairs for. That or playing with toys having completely forgotten every command other than ‘go upstairs’.
7. Sticks are guns, or light sabers, or some form of hurty, shooty type implement and no amount of lecturing about not playing with guns and guns being dangerous will change this. Deal with it.
8. If they don’t want to do it, they don’t want to do it and no amount of cajoling will change their opinion or stance on the matter. Seems stubbornness in men starts at a very tender age.
9. They wrestle. Even if you don’t have another male living in the house. Even if they have never wrestled with a male adult, never been exposed to the testosterone fueled activity of two males grappling each other until one gives in, they will at some point happily fling themselves at another boy and tumble around, hurting each other until one or the other gives in. And they will enjoy it.
10. They will be your baby much much longer than your fiercely independent daughters and will be happy to snuggle up with a blankie and a film for years.