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Brain health is important. Without it, your brain starts to deteriorate and soon you find yourself forgetting things you’re supposed to know or not able to remember people’s names. And even worse, you may find yourself dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

As you explore the idea of brain training, you may have run across the term “cognitive stimulation.” Simply put, cognitive stimulation is exercise for your brain.

In honor of National Train Your Brain Day, celebrated on October 13th, we’ll be looking at activities you can do to improve brain health.

Brain Workouts

Computers have made it easier than ever to find ways to stimulate your brain and give it a fantastic workout. You’ve heard the old adage, “Use it or lose it!” This applies to your brain as well. Just like your muscles need exercise to stay in shape and to function optimally, your brain does as well.

There are many sites on the internet that offer “brain training.” Some are free, while others, such as Lumosity.com, NeuroNation.com and MindSparkle.com, require you to sign up for a subscription and pay fees. Some games require a flash player which can be downloaded free from Adobe. Here are a few sites and game suggestions to get you started:

  • Build your brainpower doing BrainCurls. It’s a free site with games that exercise your brain, test your memory and help you something new. Concentration is always a good game to stretch your brain; if you like birds, you’ll really enjoy Bird Watching Concentration. And, remembering an ever-building sequence makes Butterfly Memories a fantastic memory building tool.
  • BrainFood offers different types of puzzles, from logic problems to word games. Their Realistic Lateral Thinking Puzzle and Common Sense Word Problems challenge you to solve puzzles using critical thinking skills. Once solved, you can have fun using the scenarios to challenge your friends’ critical thinking skills as well.
  • BrainPages offers an extensive collection of free brain games. If you like cryptograms, be sure to check out Code Breaking. If you like jigsaw puzzles, their animated jigsaw puzzle, the Animation Puzzle, provides an intense workout for your brain.
  • SudokuConquest offers Sudoku puzzles of various sizes and difficulties.
  • KakuroConquest offers Kakuro puzzles of various sizes and difficulties.

If you want to learn more about brain training and how the brain works, check out Lumosity’s blog and MindSparkle’s blog.

Food for Thought

Consuming “brain foods” may help to boost your brain power. If you’ve done any research in this area, you are likely to have run into many articles touting the benefits of blueberries, salmon and almonds. But there are others as well. Let’s look at some foods you should try to incorporate into your diet daily.

  • Oily fish, especially salmon, is packed with the fatty acids essential to brain function, some that our bodies are unable to produce and must be consumed. Wild-caught fish is best.
  • Blueberries are a brain super food, helping protect the brain from oxidative stress and possibly even reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Almonds contain high levels of nutrients proven to prevent cognitive decline and preserve memory.
  • In studies, it was determined that green tea extract, a component of green tea, enhances cognitive function and may have preventative implications in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which help decrease the risk of hypertension and protect against age-related cognitive decline.
  • The regular consumption of cocoa flavanols, which are present in dark chocolate, was found to be effective in improving cognitive function in elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairment.

Regular, but moderate, consumption of these foods is recommended for a brain-healthy diet. So, you now have a reason to satisfy that sweet craving with chocolate … guilt-free!

Additional Ideas

Staying active, both mentally and physically, is good for your brain. Yes, even physical exercise is important to brain health, especially aerobic exercise. So, get out your walking shoes, print out some of those Realistic Lateral Thinking Puzzles and Common Sense Word Problems, and use the puzzles to work out your brain while you walk or jog. Or, put on some headphones and listen to a good book while exercising.

Even coloring has been shown to have a positive impact on your brain. Anything creative, especially when learning how to do something new, is great for the brain.

Forest Hill

Because we understand the importance of brain fitness, our activity calendar is filled with activities that enhance every area of your life including brain health. Our robust calendar of activities includes art, music, theater, dance, lectures and much more, providing enjoyable activities that also stimulate your mental faculties.

And then, when you’re ready to kick back, relax and recharge, what better place than Forest Hill? Located in Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula, Forest Hill is a vibrant, full-service retirement community situated around an elegantly renovated, historic and architecturally distinctive main building, a hotel originally built in 1924. Due to its location, Forest Hill also offers stunning views of Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Contact us to schedule a tour of our community or to get a copy of our complimentary guidebook. Come see why we just might be the most beautiful retirement community in California.

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