Keeping a healthy mind can help to prevent falls. Keep physically, mentally and socially active can improve older adult’s mental health, reaction time and alertness to hazards.
Assessing cognition is common when screening for falls risk. There are many different cognitive screening tools available.
How can I help older adults keep a healthy mind?
There are many simple and enjoyable activities that can help older adults to keep their minds active and healthy. Any activity which works to stimulate the brain and improve mental fitness will help to keep a healthy mind. Examples of activities to encourage include:
- Participating in daily routines and activities
- Keeping socially active by joining a social group and engaging in the company of others
- Boosting memory by using memory games or triggers or memorising shortlists
- Taking up a new hobby (e.g. playing an instrument, learning a new language, knitting, drawing, scrapbooking, writing or gardening)
- Playing games with the grandkids
- Completing safe DIY projects
- Completing crossword puzzles and word games
- Reading newspapers, books and magazines
- Playing thinking games like chess, scrabble and cards
Physical activity maintains and enhances cognition across the lifespan. Participation in aerobic exercise and progressive resistance exercise improves the performance of brain regions responsible for functions such as selective attention and conflict resolution. These types of exercise should be incorporated into existing balance and strength-focused falls prevention interventions.
Keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum is important for older adults to keep their minds healthy and reduce their risk of falls. Alcohol consumption can impair balance, judgment, coordination and reaction time. It can also cause problems like forgetfulness and confusion and increase the risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression. The Drug and Alcohol Office provide information on alcohol education and training options.
Family, friends and carers can play an important role in keeping a healthy mind by providing social support and encouraging older adults to stay connected with their community. Activities such as having dinner with family, joining a book club, going to community events and getting involved in social groups can provide older adults with social interaction and a sense of belonging.