Some seniors will never show any age-related decline in cognitive functions. However, there are a greater number of seniors that do show a decrease in cognitive skills and abilities to some degree. Most all of us will experience it to some extent, and it is natural to experience this as we age and brain cells begin to naturally die. However, some people will develop Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia.
So what can we do to prevent a decrease in cognitive capabilities? Exercise of course. Just like you exercise your muscles and body, you should use your brain through activities that stimulate different areas. It is important to stay mentally fit in order to maintain long-lasting reasoning skills, memory, and processing capabilities.
If you are worried because you are already experiencing some memory loss symptoms or have a loved one who is, it is not too late! Studies show that starting brain-stimulating activities can improve your cognitive abilities and provide positive effects for slowing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Here are some suggested cognitive activities for seniors:
Completing crafts is an excellent way for senior individuals to keep their brains alert. Most crafts require fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. It also requires them to be creative and think outside of the box. If your senior has a shortened attention span, poor motor skills or other limitations, you may need to modify or assist them accordingly. Try things such as drawing, scrapbooking, playing music, or painting.
Puzzles are fun and engaging for people of all ages. It requires special cognition and recognizing inverse shapes that fit together. Puzzles also encourage seniors to look at the bigger picture and think about what comes next. Because this is such a family-friendly activity, it also encourages intergenerational play. If your senior has limitations, look online for puzzles made with oversized pieces.
Word Searches or Crossword Puzzles
If your senior loves words and is a good speller, have them try word searches and crosswords! Both of these require them to use their brain to recognize patterns and use problem-solving skills. You can find large print word puzzle books designed specifically for seniors, or try downloading an app to a smart device, such as an iPad. These are also good solo games for them to do on their own. They can also be calming, and are great activities to include in a daily routine.
There are a variety of apps made for smart devices that help with cognition and are designed to boost memory. Apps are constantly being developed so for the most up-to-date list of popular apps, visit your app store and search “brain apps,” “cognition apps” or “memory apps.”
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