Staying mentally stimulated while suffering from mobility loss can, according to Dr. Amber help ward off depression and anxiety, boost self-esteem, and ward off further mental and physical decline.
“I always tell my patients, ‘To stay healthy physically, you have to stay healthy mentally,'” says Dr. patel “I understand it’s challenging, but don’t focus on things you can’t do because of your limited mobility and instead shift the focus to what you can do With Your limited mobility.”
Anything that enriches or challenges the mind can help, but there are certain activities that make your brain cells work a little harder, says Dr. Amber.
dr Patel recommends anyone struggling with limited mobility try the following simple mental exercise. Every time you catch yourself having a negative thought about your limitations, get yourself thinking about three positive things about your life as well. Even if the change in mentality won’t happen immediately, says Dr. Patel that after four to six weeks of implementing the practice, people should notice a difference.
Get tech savvy
“Learn about new technologies and use them to make your life easier,” says Dr. patel “Use of smartphones, tablets, and other technologies has increased significantly, and I’ve also seen seniors use technology for online shopping, grocery ordering, banking, and even healthcare services.”
Socialization through tools like FaceTime or social media can also be beneficial, and recent studies show that technology can positively connect older adults or those who are housebound and have limited mobility with others.
If you or your loved ones are feeling unsure about trying new technology, sites like Tech Boomers, which offer free courses to learn how to use online sites like Zoom to Facebook to eBay, or SeniorNet, a nonprofit organization that provides seniors with free online -Courses connects to. can help.
Spend time outside
According to research, green exercise – any activity in nature – has positive effects on mental health by improving mood and self-esteem. In fact, a review of 10 studies presented in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology notes that benefits are achieved within just five minutes of contact with nature.
“Sunlight is also a great antidepressant and a source of vitamin D for older adults,” says Dr. Bernstein, who regularly encourages his elderly patients to garden or visit parks to reap the physical and mental benefits of being outdoors.
Cook in the kitchen
“Cooking challenges and stimulates many different parts of the brain,” says Dr. Amber. For example, long-term memory is used to remember how to cook a family favorite while another part of the brain is busy discussing and reading a recipe. Meanwhile, another part of the brain comes into play measuring and combining ingredients.
Melissa Bernstein, an occupational therapist and certified chef, also uses cooking as a way for caregivers to connect with patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. “The activity of cooking combines some physical exercise while stimulating the brain to perform tasks, encouraging interaction between people, and providing time for conversation,” she says.
In addition, eating together provides another opportunity for mental stimulation through socialization.
Learn a new language
Bilingualism is another form of cognitive stimulation that involves multiple aspects of brain activity. A recent study in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience notes that people who speak more than one language can delay the onset of dementia symptoms by about four to five years compared to monolingual patients.
Spending even a few minutes a day practicing another language can trigger mental stimulation, and according to Dr. Patel, it’s never too late to start.
Movement with mobility training
Mobility training is different from stretching, which aims to make muscles more flexible. Although mobility training may include some exercises to improve flexibility, the exercises are designed to help you move better through your daily activities (aka functional fitness) while expanding your range of motion.
According to Ridge Carpenter, a fitness and mobility specialist for Amazon Halo, “exercise health” is a perfect way for people with limited mobility to incorporate physical activity into their lives. A study appearing in the journal Athletic Health also notes that maintaining physical mobility through exercise has protective effects on structural changes that occur with age in areas of the brain associated with memory, attention, and task performance.
To try mobility training, Carpenter suggests starting with “knuckle writing.” Keep one foot off the ground in front of you and imagine writing cursive letters in the air with your big toe. Start by writing the alphabet and use this to explore the range of motion of your ankles.
This exercise can also be done with other joints. For example, write with one finger by just moving your wrist, or by just moving your elbow or shoulder. You can also try closing your eyes while you “write.”
“This is similar to another tool, ‘graphesthesia,’ in which the goal is to recognize writing on the skin through touch, and it serves a similar purpose of quantifying and training how you feel about your body,” says Carpenter. “We don’t often ask ourselves to really slow down and feel where our parts are, but it’s a great way to feel better overall.”
Make it musical
According to a study published in the journal Brain, listening to music activates an intricate network of brain regions related to attention, semantic processing, memory, motor skills, and emotional processing. The study also shows that music can help improve cognitive recovery after an event that leads to memory loss, such as an accident. B. a stroke, and can prevent negative moods.
“Music is powerful for brain stimulation, and people can actively participate in playing an instrument or become receptive through listening to music,” says Dr. Patel, who regularly uses music as a patient awareness raising tool.
dr Patel also recommends setting up a playlist on a home device for easy access to mental stimulation songs.
Try virtual reality
Virtual Reality (VR) can also facilitate mental stimulation for those with limited mobility. VR users wear a headset with an integrated screen to access a computer-generated, interactive simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment. This presents information to the senses and mind as if the person were experiencing these environments in real time.
“VR stimulates your mind, and studies have shown that VR can strengthen neural connectors that support our sensory, motor, and cognitive abilities, allowing us to enhance cognition,” says Dr. Patel, who uses virtual reality with some of his patients. “I use it to show them places to visit so they can experience the countries they’ve never been to and are curious about.”
A recent study from the University of Maryland also shows that VR can help with memory. Subjects in the study who were asked to memorize faces and images had an 8.8% improvement in memory when learning the information through a VR setup.
VR headsets can be easily purchased online and downloaded to your phone with the appropriate apps. dr Patel also notes that VR can give people with limited mobility a sense of control and freedom through VR experiences.