Brain Exercises for Caregivers

By Cheryl Ellis

Brain foods and brain vitamins have naturally led to brain stimulating exercises. It’s considered “old news” that anagrams and crossword puzzles help the brain work out. A new frontier is emerging; our search for healthier brains has led to development of software programs and other technology to improve brain function.

Every time we learn something new, our brain grows new tissue. Some things as common as figuring out how to program a DVD or use a new cell phone help keep the brain in condition. Yet, just like an individual goes to the exercise club, folks log on to programs to exert mental energy.


If we could order another helping of brain mass to replace what we perceive is deteriorating daily, mental and emotional stress would be less of a concern. Proper foods, rest and other factors help maintain the approximately three pounds the human brain weighs.

We can “order up” more brains to replace the parts that naturally die off by incorporating activities that stimulate the brain. We keep the new parts functional and working by continuing that stimulation.


The stack of bills and the number of phone calls needing to be returned all add up to brain “fat.” While the bills and phone calls have a priority, you can’t accomplish them if your mental functions aren’t up to it. Enter the “smart diet.”

Take a look at how you are processing the things you need to do. By getting your brain to work a little differently, you may find that the drain you’ve experienced with these tasks is because you’re doing them the “same old way.”

Caregivers work long and hard to establish productive ways that can accomplish what they need to do for themselves and their loved ones. While set patterns can improve efficiency, if done the same way for too long, the patterns become a rut.

Examine where the “fat” is in your daily routine. While not a patented form of brain exercise, it’s a simple, inexpensive way to boost your brain. The trick is to look at your routine from a different perspective. You may find you save minutes in places you didn’t expect. Or, while it may take longer to accomplish something (like a loved one’s grooming), a change in perspective may make the experience more enjoyable.


Mental exertion can be positive and invigorating. We don’t often experience that as caregivers, however. Some decisions that must be thought about carefully often come at us from left field. Repeatedly making decisions this way can wear us down. At the day’s end, we may be both mentally and physically exhausted, unable to decide between one thing and another.


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