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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

How to feed your brain health

By Shannon Chin

Shannon works extensively with older people to preserve and maintain brain function, and has some everyday tips people can use to maintain their memory.

Doing the daily crossword puzzle, attending the local trivia night or even counting your purchases as
you do the weekly grocery shop could be having enormous benefits for our brain function and
staving off memory loss.

I work with older adults to boost brain health and reduce the risk of dementia onset. I’ve identified
plenty of easy and fun every-day activities that will improve our chances of retaining a healthy mind.

  • Crossword puzzles: The daily crossword puzzle does wonders for maintaining the language function of your brain.
  • Sudoku and Kakuro: While crosswords help with the language part of the brain, mixing them with Sudoku or Kakuro puzzles (even if they’re not your strong suit) are valuable across a range of brain functions and contribute to a more well-rounded mind. Kakuro keeps the accounting function in the brain active and sharp while Sudoku gives your brain a pretty extensive workout.
  • Trivia: People love it or hate it, but spending a few minutes a day practising your knowledge on a certain topic and trying to improve it will help exercise your long-term memory function. If you don’t know the answer, searching on the internet (asking Mr Google) will add some fun too.
  • Word recall: This is an easy and simple way to boost your short-term memory. All you need to do is pick 7 or 9 medium length words, write them down on a piece of paper, memorise them and put the paper away. Then, you recite the words in the exact sequence top to bottom, bottom to top, and in alphabetical order.
  • Logic or Code Breaking Puzzles: These puzzles, which are abundant online and can be purchased in bookshop for printed version, are fantastic ways to boost your problem solving capacity and they give you a sense of accomplishment when you complete them.
  • Mental maths: Something as simple as adding up your purchases in your head as you shop can help the computing processes in your brain to stay sharp. It doesn’t matter if you get them right – it’s the act of trying that will help with computation and memory.
  • Jigsaw puzzles or Reading the map: Some people enjoy jigsaw puzzles more than others. Doing jigsaw puzzle or reading the map gives the built-in navigation tool in your brain a good workout. This helps you maintain balance and a sense of place, date, time, space and faces.

These activities are not only fun and distracting, but they play a crucial role in having a healthy mind from a relatively small amount of effort.

The important part is doing them consistently. You also want to have a good mix of different activities and not just focusing on one type. We don’t enjoy eating the same food every meal every day, same goes to the cauliflower in your head, it needs a variety of “food” to stay healthy.

If you can’t do them all, then I recommend you choose Sudoku and reading or crossword puzzles, or learn a new language. If you can make them a part of your regular routine, the benefits will be felt long-term.

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