Intellectual Activities for Seniors

As we age, many begin to experience a decline in their memory retention. Little things like forgetting what street you lived on as a child or your first phone number might not seem like a big deal, but when these little things start compounding onto one another, it could grow into a more serious issue. This is why keeping one’s brain active with intellectual activities for seniors is so crucial.

Word games, puzzles, reading, and crafting are all common avenues for boosting one’s cognitive skills. These are fantastic, fun ways to keep one’s mind active, but you may want additional activities to stimulate your mind and cognitive skills in your daily life. If that is the case, consider some of these activities.

Intellectual Activities for Seniors

What are cognitive skills?

Before we get started, there is one clarification that is important to make. As you look for ways to exercise your brain, you likely see the phrase “cognitive skills” thrown around. You might be able to infer what cognitive skills refer to, but may not be completely sure what it means.

At its core, cognitive skills refer to the way you process and recall information on all fronts. This impacts more than just your general memory. Your cognitive function affects your ability to read, write, learn, think, and speak. It can even have an influence on your mobility.

Issues with cognitive skills may manifest as below:

  • Long-term memory—forgetting names and things you used to know, doing poorly on tests
  • Working memory—difficulty following multi-step directions, forgetting what was recently said in conversation
  • Logic and reasoning—feeling stuck or overwhelmed, constantly having to ask what to do next to solve a problem
  • Auditory processing—struggling with reading and reading comprehension
  • Visual processing—struggling to remember what you just read and follow written directions
  • Processing speed—taking a long time to comprehend and complete a task
  • Attention—difficulty completing projects, easily distracted, difficulty multitasking

What are some intellectual activities for seniors?

Some may think that, as their cognitive skills start to slip, it’s too late for them. This is not necessarily the case! Your brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised just like any other. Regular mental exercise will have a positive impact on your overall health.

In addition to the exercise you already do on a day-to-day basis, consider incorporating these tasks.

Try these intellectual activities to stay mentally fit

Download a brain training app

If you’re comfortable with a smartphone or tablet, a great place to start is with a brain-training app. These services encourage you to train specific skills—such as concentration, visual-spatial skills, and problem-solving—on a regular basis. In flexing these muscles, you will slowly start to see improvement. Some may include:

  • Exercises for attention—the person must identify the number of differences between two images that appear the same at first glance
  • Perception exercises—a screen displays a set of symbols during a short period of time. When a second set is shown, the person must determine which symbols were previously displayed
  • Memory exercises—the person is presented with a list of words. After studying them for a set period of time, they must remember as many of them as possible
  • Processing speed exercises—two symbols are presented and the person must decide if at least one of them is included in a particular group
  • Reasoning exercises—the person must find a word related to their provided word. For example, apples to oranges, cats to…?

There are a wide range of brain-training game apps you could download. A few great options are Lumosity, CogniFit, and BrainHQ. They each offer daily training and a way of tracking your process, but your access to them depends on whether or not you purchase the app or download the free version. If none of these interest you, explore your app store and find something that does.

Learn a new language

It’s common knowledge that the younger you are the easier it is to learn a new language, but that doesn’t mean you’re ever too old to learn. Learning a new language challenges the brain to build new synapses and improve memory. As time goes on, you’ll be left with an incredibly useful skill.

There are plenty of resources to start learning a new language. Look up classes at community centers or your local college campus. Alternatively, you can also borrow language audiobooks from the library. For those who are a little more tech-savvy, join an online class or sign up for an app such as Duolingo or Babbel.

Brain yoga

Yoga itself is already a fantastic exercise for older adults’ bodies and minds, but you can take it a step further by practicing something called “brain yoga.” This mental exercise stimulates the brain by encouraging you to improve your motor abilities, which impacts your hand-eye coordination and neural pathways as a result.

Many brain yoga exercises might sound simple on paper, but are a bit tricky in practice! A great example is this exercise:

  1. Make a fist with your right hand and raise your thumb
  2. Then, make a fist with your left hand and raise your pinkie
  3. Alternate the poses between hands

More brain yoga exercises can be found online in a Google or YouTube search.

Stay social

A social life does more for your brain than you might think. Conversation may seem like second nature, but it actually forces you to keep up with what was said and remember details in order to properly engage. Interactions between loved ones, friends, and new acquaintances alike will have a substantial impact on your overall mental health

Engage your mind with the help of an at-home caregiver

When you live alone at home, it can be difficult to find opportunities to engage with others. This is not only to the detriment of your cognitive skills, but to your mental health. Those seniors who live at home are more likely to experience loneliness and isolation, which can lead to depression.

An at-home caregiver can help. In addition to offering assistance with personal care and meal preparation, your at-home caregiver will act as a companion to you. They will engage in thoughtful conversation with you and partake in brain games and activities to keep your mind active.

If you think you might benefit from the care of an at-home caregiver, give us a call at 773-274-9262.

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