A Brain Exercise a Day keeps the Alzheimer's Away.

A Brain Exercise a Day keeps the Alzheimer's Away.

My father died of Alzheimer's almost five years ago. When you lose someone with Alzheimer's disease, you lose them twice -- first when they start experiencing a decline in cognitive skills and recognition and secondly when they actually pass away.

My mom fortunately remains in good health and we are adamant about keeping her brain challenged so that she will never suffer his fate. To that end, I bought her a crossword puzzle book last year and a portable keyboard so she could revive her piano skills and learn to play some new songs.

An article I read this week confirming that brain exercise can be a deterrent to Alzheimer's ensures me my family is on the right track.

If you know and love an elderly person who might be endanger of Alzheimer's, here are some things you can do to help them get the brain exercise they need:

1. Take them to a bookstore and have them pick out some magazines or novels they will actually read.  Word puzzle books are also available in bookstores, as are  Bibles, which my mom enjoys reading every day.

2. Play a strategic card game with them -- one where they have to employ strategy and premeditate your next move. If cards aren't your thing, consider playing chess.

3. Challenge them to join you in learning one new skill a year. My family did this one year: we all learned to paint. Not only is this a fun way to bond, but you'll utilize both hemispheres of your brain: the logical side and the creative side.