Bad news for all of us lazy people out there! Recent research shows that completing household chores has a positive effect on our overall long-term brain health and cognitive function. A study completed by the Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care showed that older adults who spend more time on household chores actually show a larger brain size than those who don’t routinely complete chores. Bad news for lazy spouses!
The larger brain size was evident in two particular areas of the brain in older persons. The first was the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and for memory. As one of the most frustrating things to lose for elder persons as their cognitive function declines, learning and memory is critical to the overall health prognosis for an older person. Having a sharp memory lends itself to better quality of life, better living, and a better attitude, reducing depression and anxiety associated with the loss of memory abilities.
The second area of the brain affected by household chores is the frontal lobe, which plays a major part in cognition and critical thinking. This is the “snappiness” you feel when you figure out a complex problem at work or a complicated logistical issue with many moving parts. As we get older, we lose some of our ability to critically think and work with many moving pieces in complicated issues. Perhaps unsurprisingly, continuing to manage a household and completing chores into our elderhood can help maintain and keep much of those cognitive skills.
At Senior Steps, our geriatric care managers look at the entire lifestyle of our clients when completing an assessment and working with their long-term goals and needs. One of the things we always ensure with our clients is that they stay busy and productive. Staying functional and active lends itself to a sense of independence and productivity that plays an important part in maintaining a healthy mental and physical lifestyle. Although we all have moments of “why am I taking out the garbage, I’m too old for this!”, keeping up with our chores and routines has a measurably positive impact on our mental health and our brain size!
Even though you may not want to do the dishes for the 12th time this week, you can take pride in the fact that it’s actually keeping your brain healthy and vibrant!