Cognitive Health and Senior Citizens

Cognitive Health and Senior Citizens

As we age, our bodies require exercise to stay strong and healthy. If we live a sedentary lifestyle, especially as we get older, we lose the ability to physically function in the way we want and need to. The same is true for our minds. Senior adults must exercise their brains through mental stimulation in order to maintain their cognitive skills.

Thankfully, there are lots of easy and fun activities to keep the mind sharp and focused as we age.


Why is cognitive stimulation so important?

When we are younger, there are many things that keep our minds active like work, relationships, raising a family, education, social life, and so on. As we move into our golden years, we face retirement, adult children have settled into their own lives, and friends, family, and loved ones begin to pass on. Without regular cognitive stimulation, senior adults are at a greater risk of declining mental skills including:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Reasoning
  • Perception
  • Awareness

Cognitive stimulation provides a great many benefits for the elderly including a sense of accomplishment and purpose, connection to others, and improved overall health.

Engaging the elderly in regular conversation is a great way to help them stay active, involved, and mentally sharp.  A simple daily phone call has a great impact on their ability to maintain strong cognitive functions and helps keep them involved in the lives of the people they love and care about.

After retirement, many seniors start to become inactive because they no longer feel the need to do something. They’ve spent their lives dedicated to family, work, relationships, and more and are left feeling unneeded or unimportant. As they adjust to this new phase in life, cognitive stimulation becomes more important than ever. When senior adults discover new hobbies and skills and develop new relationships, mental stimulation increases their sense of accomplishment and importance. It also gives them something to look forward to every day and helps to keep them mentally sharp.

Cognitive stimulation can also have a positive impact on overall health. The more active the mind, the less likely it is that an elderly adult will develop mental health issues or physical disabilities. It is a well-known fact that stress has negative effects on our physical well-being, and mental stimulation can help reduce stress. When controlling stress through mental stimulation, the chances of seniors living longer and happier are increased. The side effects of depression or anxiety are also reduced with regular cognitive stimulation.

Ways to Stimulate Cognition

Mental stimulation doesn’t need to be overly complicated. As mentioned above, a simple conversation can work wonders for stimulating the mind. Keep in mind that every person is unique, and what works for one may not always work for another.

Below we’ve listed effective ways to help mentally stimulate the elderly.

– Puzzles and board games
Puzzles and board games have always been a popular pastime with seniors, but they actually offer much more in terms of mental stimulation. Puzzles and games like checkers or chess are some of the best ways to keep older adults mentally sharp. For seniors who are more artistic, painting or sketching is a great mental exercise as well.

– Listening to music
There’s a reason everyone loves music. It’s fun to listen to and gives us positive feelings. Songs can bring up long-forgotten memories. Listening to music helps mental cognition in a variety of ways.
Listening closely to song lyrics keeps the brain active. By paying attention to the words and processing what they mean, the mind stays alert and the overall mood of the individual is improved at the same time.

– Recall testing

One of the biggest concerns for most senior adults is memory loss. Memory has an effect on personality, happiness, and behavior. One easy way to keep memory sharp is through recall testing. You can have the senior adult tell you or make a list of daily activities at the end of the day. Some of these activities include who they talked with, what meals they had, what board games they played, where they went, what they shopped for, etc.

– Basic math skills testing

Working out a complicated math equation on paper may be helpful, but seniors should practice mental stimulation by working out basic math problems in their heads. This simple exercise increases brain stimulation to keep the mind sharp and focused.

It’s important to keep our minds healthy, active, and strong for as long as possible. At Terrace Ridge, we understand the importance of cognitive skills and mental stimulation for our residents. We ensure our residents have the opportunity each and every day to engage and participate in scheduled activities alone and with others. We provide three balanced nutritious meals served daily in our tasteful dining room, planned social, cultural, and spiritual activities, a private dining space for entertaining, living areas, and conversation parlors to name just a few of the amenities we offer to the members of our community. To learn more about how assisted living can help senior adults remain mentally sharp, contact us today.