New tips to keep aging minds strong

Many studies have shown the average brain starts to decline at as early as 45 years old, but one retirement living community in Washington State has used a memory game to not just stop decline in cognitive function, but to improve it.

As reported in The Columbian newspaper, Kamlu Retirement Inn in Vancouver, Washington has begun running a game called “Copy Cat,” where participants use checkers and puzzle pieces to re-create a pattern they saw moments before. Experts say keeping the aging mind active will not just slow decline, but it has the potential to help growth.

“While there is some intellectual decline with age, there are also areas of growth and stability in intelligence,” Cory Bolkan, a Washington State University professor and expert in cognitive development, told the newspaper.

Debra Ochoa, a cognitive trainer, developed the memory game being used by Kamlu Retirement Inn, and she told the news outlet that the best way to keep the brain active is by making it think.

“The brain loves novelty. It loves to discover, and it grows strong by learning new things,” she said.

One way seniors can help keep their mind active as they age, Ochoa said, is by walking down the street and assigning a name to everything they see. She also said crosswords and similar puzzles are helpful only when the level of difficulty is increased.