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Learning technology helps your brain



June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month – an opportunity to have a conversation about the brain and share the fact that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are a major public health problem. There may be no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there’s plenty of evidence that exercise — both the body and the brain — lowers the risk of getting it… and technology may play a role.

Many seniors are technology phobic and convince themselves that it’s okay to do things the old-fashioned way. But the very thing that is so intimidating about technology – ignorance – is exactly what will prevent dementia: learning new skills to use it.

As this article explains, science has proven the relationship between memory and learning. The Synapse project studied the memory of participants who performed various tasks for three months. After three months, the people who did digital photography or a combination of digital photography and quilting had the most favorable outcomes with cognition, especially memory function, compared with study participants who just socialized, did crossword puzzles, or listened to music.

“The researchers concluded that learning new, unknown skills that required involvement of working memory, long-term memory and other high-level cognitive processes actually helped preserve memory.”

; Intriguingly, some of the original 221 people were retested a year later and three years later, and the results were still positive.

That’s why it’s called a smartphone!

You may not realize it, but you probably already have an Alzheimer’s prevention machine — your smartphone. And you don’t need to download any games or apps, you just need to use it for the tasks of daily life. The frequency of performing challenging tasks to build brainpower is an important part of the equation. You can’t just learn something new every few weeks, you have to train your brain daily. Your smartphone and other smart devices such as Alexa offer plenty of options.

Challenges to build brainpower:

  • Experiment with digital photography on your phone. Try different settings and filters.
  • Set up a website. Wix and Weebly have simple website apps that are free and optimized for non-techies to set up websites.
  • Buy a digital watch and sync it with your phone. Experiment with different watch faces and other settings.
  • Learn a new language on your phone. Try the app com.
  • Make payments on your phone using various cash apps. Zelle is a real challenge.
  • Set up Alexa to do new things, like control your doorbell or lights.
  • Call Google instead of calling a grandchild. Learn to follow the digital breadcrumbs to find your answer.
  • Learn from YouTube videos. Need to install a new TV or other device? Or repair something? Chances are there’s a YouTube video explaining it.

Even if not all results relate to the relationship between Alzheimer’s and learning, it’s common sense to train both your brain and body to stay healthy as you age. Want more ideas to keep your brain limber? How about some… trivia? Read more here.

Want more ways to explore technology? Check out the free online classes offered by Senior Planet. Do you know a senior who is not yet affiliated? Tell them about the Aging Connected initiative.


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