There’s an erroneous belief that cognitive decline in our later years is inevitable. But these days, neurologists assure us that this is not the case. They note that even when brain imaging reveals changes that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, some seniors show no outward signs of memory or thinking problems. These seniors have built a robust “cognitive reserve”—extra brain capacity that allows them to, in a sense, “live around” the changes in the brain.
Since this research became widely known, many older adults have embraced brain training—games and computer programs designed to increase neural connections. These commercial products have received mixed reviews, but scientists say that it certainly can’t hurt to use them. And as we saw in the October/November 2017 issue of the Hand in Hand e-newsletter, a wide range of activities are beneficial. Even puzzles like the one in this issue of Hand in Hand provide a bit of a mental workout.
If your New Year’s resolutions include “get more brain exercise,” it’s good to know researchers are confirming the value of more and more popular activities. Here are three of the most recent activities to get a thumbs up.