Mental Exercises to Keep the Mind Sharp in Old Age

By M. Chris Wolf, PH.D.

The constant learning curve provides that mental exercises gives youngsters, cause its unformed brain and its intelligence to develop at a terrific rate. Nearly everything we learn as human beings we learn when we are very young. The baby and young child absorb an amazing amount of information about the world and its own body and abilities. In the first months of life, a tiny baby has to learn to control its own body to the point where it can move its limbs, smile, sit up, crawl, and finally start to walk and talk. In addition, all the time it is learning to understand the world around it.

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At the other end of life many people find their mental capabilities, especially that of memory, declining as they age. This can be very distressing not only for the elderly person, but also for their family and friends. However, it does not have to happen. Studies have shown that mental decline can be kept at bay with mental exercises that keep the brain fit and toned, just as physical exercise tones the body.

The greatest environmental danger to the brain and memory is boredom; many people retire and then find themselves mentally declining as they sit at home. Monotony does not challenge the brain, and challenge is what keeps the brain working at full capacity.

In Monique Le Poncin's book Brain Fitness, she identifies areas of mental function that are likely to become impaired with age, including memory, logic, perception, and structuralization. Le Poncin, founder of the French National Institute for Research on the Prevention of Cerebral Aging, stresses the need for mental exercises to keep the brain functioning well.

Exercise Using Your Senses

You can make a mental workout to use wherever you go. Le Poncin gives five exercises in her book designed for the senses. For sight, she suggests drawing an object or person you see on the street every day for a week. Then redraw the seven subjects from memory at the end of the week. For hearing, she suggests trying to identify a telephone caller before they announce their name. For smell and taste, identify seasonings in the restaurant meal you are eating, and ask the waiter if you are right. For touch, she suggests trying to identify objects by feel with your eyes closed, and for memory, she proposes learning restaurant menus by heart.

Chess, cards, puzzles and other games are also good mental exercises, but your workouts should be changed often, or boredom will set in and they will lose their effect.

For more information visit:

Memory Strategies and Technology

Brain Enhancement

Brain Fitness Program - What is it?

Brain Games - Do they help?

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