Cognitive Stimulation and Senior Adults

Today, more senior adults than ever are concerned with maintaining their health through proper diet and exercise than at any other time in recent memory. Unfortunately, the same isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to maintaining mental health.

Every other part of the body needs proper nutrition and regular exercise to stay healthy. The brain also needs a regular “workout” to remain active, alert, and functioning throughout every stage of life.

From birth until around the age of 45, cognitive abilities like attention, concentration, and memory are developed and maintained at healthy levels for most people. Around the age of 45, adults may start to notice a decline in cognitive abilities that can only worsen as they continue to age. Although considered by some to be a normal part of the aging process, there are cognitive stimulation exercises that can be done on a regular basis to slow down cognitive decline.

Cognitive stimulation involves a set of strategies and techniques to improve the efficacy and performance of cognitive abilities to perform actions like speech, reasoning, planning, memory, and attention. These exercises are geared towards improving and maintaining cognitive functions.

There are many cognitive exercises that can be performed on a daily basis, regardless of physical abilities. We’ve listed a few of them below.

– Socialization

This one may seem pretty basic, but engaging in conversation and socializing with others is a great way for seniors to stay mentally active. Through conversation, seniors are forced to remember names, dates, and other important details to keep up with the topics being discussed. For those in an assisted living facility, it is easy to engage in conversation with staff and other members of their community as often as they want.

– Board games

People of all ages love board games, and this is an activity that the whole family can engage in. Traditional board games like Monopoly and Clue are not only fun, they are helpful with memory retention, attention to detail, and encouraging conversation among players. Strategic games like Checkers and Chess are great at stimulating the brain, as they require players to think about each move they make, try to determine the next move of their opponent, and develop a strategy to win. Not only do these games stimulate cognition, they also provide a great way for seniors to break up the boredom that can come with day-to-day life. 

– Puzzles

Puzzles require senior adults to pay attention to details and look for patterns. They are a great way to stimulate brain functions and stretch those mental muscles. Who doesn’t love relaxing on a cold or rainy day putting together a puzzle? To make it even more fun, do puzzles that are holiday or seasonal themed.

Word search puzzles, crossword puzzles, and brain games are also great for mental stimulation. If physical limitations like poor eyesight are an issue, there are lots of puzzles designed specifically for seniors available, like jigsaw puzzles with large pieces and large print crossword puzzles.

– Arts and Crafts

Creative thinking is a great way to keep the mind active. Using creative skills for arts and crafts not only keeps the mind busy, but it also keeps the hands active as well. This is the reason arts and crafts projects are always popular in assisted living communities. Painting, woodworking, knitting, and needlepoint are all great activities to get the creative juices flowing.

– Other activities for cognitive stimulation
There are so many fun and easy ways to keep the brain active. Some other activities include:
Going to the movies
Visiting a museum
Reading a book
Writing letters
Coloring and drawing
Outdoor walks
Trivia games
Cultural and religious activities
Listening to music


It is vital as we age to keep our brains active and engaged. Whatever activities you choose, you should try to do at least one every day. At Elderberry Healthcare, we are committed to meeting the social, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of every resident, in a loving and caring environment. With 3 distinct levels of care, we help seniors who need minimal support in our Assisted Living, around-the-clock nursing care in our Skilled Nursing Unit, and Transitional Rehabilitation services for post-operative patients. Contact us today for m