Humans’ ability to process, understand and apply knowledge “can actually get sharper, can get better as you get older,” CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, M.D., said during an interview with National Public Radio. The key, he said, is learning a new skill, which can be as simple as eating with the opposite hand.

Home care experts say that Gupta’s tips can be adopted for home care clients.

Aides provide life-saving, hands-on care to older care recipients, as well as critical social, behavioral and emotional support to both care recipients and their families,” Robyn Stone, DrPH, co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center, told the McKnight’s Home Care Daily. “They know their care recipients and what is going on in the home. That puts them in an ideal position not only to help care recipients address existing medical conditions but also to address online learning with clients they care for, including activities, like the ones suggested by Dr. Gupta, that will help prevent other conditions from developing.”

To do this, however, aides need training around concepts, why they are important and how best to implement them, Stone added.  

When it comes to home care, mental fitness practices could become part of a care plan, Bill Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, told the McKnight’s Home Care Daily.

“A key would be to have a well-designed mental exercise program that companies could use to train staff and then apply to their patients,” he said. “It would not be the primary reason to bring in a home care aide, but it could be a care enhancement that might be of value and marketed as a competitive advantage. Also, it might be possible to get third-party payer support for giving separate reimbursement, though that possibility is remote.”