5 names and 5 uses for Grandma

grandma names and uses 

5 names for GRANDMA:

I've been exercising my brain a bit more than usual the past couple weeks in an effort to counteract some mushiness and muck courtesy multiple sclerosis. Challenging one's noggin' is wise for one and all as we age — not just those with cognitive issues — and my dear friend Ruth and her Cranium Crunches site are a super source of fun ways to keep the brain fit.

Ruth recently shared with me...

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Brain fog, head games and Cranium Crunches

I always admired my mother-in-law's determination to keep her mind functioning as well as possible. She did crossword puzzles every single day and regularly engaged in new activities to help keep the wheels of her aging brain turning.

I used to enjoy crossword puzzles but I've done only a handful in the past decade or so. I did start taking piano lessons in my forties in hopes of increasing the dendrites in my brain, those little networking cables that make the mind move better the more you have. Unfortunately, though, I had to eliminate piano lessons when money got tight. My determination to keep up the practicing sans lessons pooped out soon after, as well as my dendrite production.

My mind and memory have apparently pooped out, too. A recent lunch with a friend I'd not seen in more than five years made me all too aware of my egregious lack of recall. As my friend and I and her daughter dined and discussed getting together with our husbands for a game night, I told my friend that although I don't know her husband, he must be a pretty good guy if she's married to him. To which she responded that I have indeed met him, have actually had him and her over to our house for a barbecue several years ago.

I didn't remember. At all. And felt pretty stupid about it. I couldn't even blame it on having a few too many beers during that forgotten BBQ because it wasn't that kind of a gathering, considering her then-adolescent kids had attended and enjoyed hanging out in our hot tub. Which I didn't recall either. At all.

Again, I felt pretty stupid. I wanted to blame the brain fog on having MS, to say, "Oh, I must have a sclerosis smack dab on top of that specific memory." But that would be even more stupid. And surely a lie.

Truth is, my brain fog, my memory, my total (or even partial) recall has been getting worse and worse and worse as I age. And I'm not really all that aged. But I find myself more often than before forgetting what I was going to say in certain circumstances, and I've become pretty bad at brainiac things I was once good at, like word play and matching games and puzzles.

I've found help, though. It's free, it's fun, it makes a difference, and it can be enjoyed by anyone at any age. It's called Cranium Crunches.

Cranium Crunches is the brain child (yes, pun intended; I can still throw together a pun now and then) of Ruth Curran. Curran, who is degreed in psychology and has extensive research experience, hatched the idea for the site after witnessing dementia issues with her parents—attributable to cancer and chemo in her mother's case, Parkinson's disease in her father—and the difference puzzles and games made in restoring their cognitive ability and their confidence.

"I set out to create a series of photo based puzzles that remind us of our lives," Curran says, "a set of brain exercises with cross generational appeal that provide a safe place to practice those skills that might be slipping, work on/hone some skills, improve focus, or just look at some cool photos and tell stories. It had to be free, require no subscription, no plan, no commitment—just come and play."

Which is exactly what Cranium Crunches provides, as well as a page on what games will help you most. The selection of photo-based games and puzzles include Memory Match, Find the Difference, One of These Things is Not Like the Others and more. All the games are quite fun and engaging, but my favorite so far has been Find the Difference, mostly because I'm determined to find them all before my time is up (which I've not yet been successful at). With increasing degrees of difficulty, it's easy to choose one you like and get better and better and better at it, all the while exercising that cranium and achieving an ageless brain in tip-top shape.

Ageless and tip-top shape is my goal for my brain. I've got quite a ways to go, though, according to the scores I've earned so far in my Cranium Crunches game play. But it's a start. And it's fun. And it's something I plan to incorporate into my daily routine—just like my mother-in-law used to do with her crossword puzzles.

photo: stock.xchng

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf of Cranium Crunches and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.

Today's question:

What do you like to do to keep your mind challenged and exercised?