Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Exercising the brain is important for us at every stage of life. This is true even when dementia becomes part of the picture. We have often heard instructions to work crossword puzzles, Soduku puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles. This is good advice IF doing these things is a challenge. Then the brain is getting a good workout. If doing these things come easily, the brain challenge is less, and, therefore, the benefit to the brain is decreased.
Knowing this, I recommended my Momma try juggling. We had just finished a one-mile walk around the neighborhood carrying one pound balls. We used these balls to do various exercises with our arms. Then I suggested she try throwing one ball at a time in the air and catching it with her dominant hand. She did very well. I then suggested she try doing this same thing with her other hand. For Momma, that was her left hand. If you have ever tried writing with your left hand, when you normally use your right hand, you can begin to understand how this was a bit of a challenge for Momma. In addition to this throwing and catching of the ball, Momma was walking around the neighborhood and talking to me. This meant her brain was firing in many different locations. One part of her brain was being used to allow her to talk, one part to allow her to toss the ball, another part to help the opposite hand reach for the ball, one part for her eyes to keep track of the sequence, and so on.
As a reminder, Momma has Alzheimer's. So, this brain exercise was an excellent workout. On top of the good brain workout she received, she worked her legs with the walking and her arms with the catching of the ball. As an extra bonus, it was fun, and Momma laughed and giggled throughout the process. (Which is also good for her brain.)
Now my challenge is to teach her how to truly juggle. Then I'm gonna start a side show and charge admission. Or...maybe not. Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.