Studies have shown that there is nothing better for seniors than to become actively involved in learning new and challenging skills. It is not a matter of just “getting out and doing things,” but rather becoming engaged and learning a new challenge. Being a spectator is the not answer. Getting our seniors involved in new brain healthy activities is just as necessary as providing for a healthy diet, continued companionship, and physical activity.

A recent study from the University of Texas (Dallas), from October 21, shows the value of learning new and challenging skills. Those who improved cognitively, were the senior participants who had “prolonged mental challenge...”

Senior Helpers of Orlando has included some activities that can be accomplished by most seniors, with assistance from family and caregivers. Making a family recipe book using new technology offers a path to learn new skills. Along with the assistance from family and caregivers, this activity also boosts communication, along with the sharing of past stories and anecdotes.

Making a Family Recipe Book While Using New Technology

- Encourage and assist your senior loved ones in creating their family recipe book by gathering old recipes, scanning or typing favorite recipes, and saving these on a CD, or a memory stick, and in print.

- Don’t forget to have your loved ones teach you, and younger generations, how to prepare some old family recipes. In turn, don’t forget to show them, how to take digital photos, and record their cooking projects.

- If possible, get the grandchildren and teens involved in recording and interviewing family seniors during some of these activities. Have the kids prepare their own questions or ask them to quiz older family members on the following:  favorite childhood foods, favorite recipes, fruits, and vegetables. Did they grow their own fruit and vegetables when they were younger?  Did they actually get up at five in the morning to milk the cows? Likewise, have the grandparents quiz and record the kids while asking some of the same questions. The milking of the cows will probably cause a good laugh.

- Save recipes, recordings, and interviews on a CD or memory stick attached to a printed recipe book. Getting grandparents to share their family cookbook and recipes, with family or friends, on a Google+ page, Facebook, and even on Twitter, offers seniors a conduit to show off their new skills. It also helps you validate them as individuals.

- Aromas coming from the busy kitchen or the outside grill will evoke past experiences. This may hearten our loved ones to speak about old family gatherings and holiday dinners.

What to do with the CDs or printed recipe books, and recipe pictures? These will all make wonderful gifts not only for family members, but for the younger generation. There is nothing better than an enduring gift, but make sure to have a printed copy on the side…Technology changes all the time!

Ana P DeLane

Senior Helpers Orlando

The study we have referenced, in the above article, appeared October 21 in the Association for Psychological Science website,

The co-authors of the study (University of Texas at Dallas) were Linda Drew, Sara Haber, Andrew Hebrank, Gerard Bischof, and Whitley Aamodt. Co-author, Jennifer Lodi-Smith, was from Canisius College. The National Institute on Aging supported the research.

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