The Best Brain Training Exercises For Seniors

February 9, 2016

Senior citizen doing a crossword

As we get older, our mental faculties begin to wane. Not only can this cause our minds to become slower and more forgetful, but it can also affect our ability to make sound decisions and remain engaged. 

Brain training exercises can help seniors improve focus, memory, decision-making, problem-solving, and overall cognitive functioning, and can be a great way to encourage them to engage in activities that can help them keep their minds sharp.

In this post, follow along as we share some of the best brain training exercises for seniors–all guaranteed to help them sharpen their minds in the process of having fun. Ready to get started? Let’s dive in and see what exercises can help seniors stay mentally sharp!‍

1. Memorize a daily list

Create a brand new list of 7 things every day and memorize it. Your list can consist of vegetables you like, films you've seen, relatives you haven't talked to in a while, etc.

How to Start: Memorize this list of mental health exercises to enhance brain function.

2. Solve a small puzzle

Get a crossword, sudoku, or even just a puzzle and solve it. Solving a puzzle helps with mental dexterity and problem-solving.

How to Start: Start with the USA Today Crossword Puzzle

3. Learn a foreign language

Memorizing a new way of speaking increases your vocabulary and also your problem-solving skills. If you put together a sentence incorrectly, you may be conveying a thought that baffles your partner. Continuing to learn the language will mentally improve your brain fitness.

How to Start: DuoLingo helps turn learning a language into a fun and easy-to-do activity. It's free and easy to sign up for.

4. Perform old skills with your opposite hand

Your motor skills will be improved by trying to do active routine tasks with your opposite hand. Instead of relying solely on your dominant hand, you will now have the ability to do more with your non-dominant hand.

How to Start: Brush your teeth with your opposite hand.

5. Learn an instrument

Fine motor skills, mental dexterity, and memory are all improved in the mind when you learn how to play a brand-new instrument.

How to Start: There are a lot of online apps that can help you learn to play the piano. Look through the list and find which one is best for you.

6. Pay with exact change

Instead of using a debit card or plain dollar bills, pay using the exact amount of change. This increases mental dexterity by forcing you to do quick arithmetic.

How to Start: Buy a pack of gum at a gas station and count out the number of coins you need.

7. Play "5 Things"

5 Things is an improv comedy game where you create an arbitrary list off the top of your head. It increases your ability to think quickly and creatively.

How to Start: Yell out "Five ways to improve your memory" and then list five completely random activities. The list does not have to be right; it just has to be a list.

8. Learn a new recipe (and memorize it)

Cooking a new dish is always wonderful, but cooking from memory is even more impressive. Brand new recipes enhance problem-solving techniques and memorizing them improves brain function.

How to Start: Look from a list of recipes and start cooking.

9. Have a conversation with a stranger every day

While you might not perceive it this way, having a conversation takes a bit of strategy and mental acuity. It also helps maintain your social life and gets you new friends (hopefully).

How to Start: Walk outside and tell the first person you see about the weather. While cliché, people often have opinions about the weather.

10. Navigate without a GPS

A GPS is a great way to get where you're going easily. However, using a map or even Google Maps before you start your trip can help improve memorization. Mentally navigate your way to your destination and exercise your cognitive health while thinking.

How to Start: Drive to a new restaurant tonight.

11. Download an app to challenge you

The internet is chock full of amazing new apps that create fun new exercises out of training your brain to have better cognitive abilities.

How to Start: Start with this list from DailyBurn and see what stands out to you.

12. Solve a riddle

Riddles require a tremendous amount of out-of-the-box problem-solving. It promotes creativity and keeps your mind sharp in a fun (if not a little frustrating) way.

How to Start: Use a website like Good Riddles Now to get daily riddles for your brain.

13. Magic eye painting

Magic eye paintings work out your eyesight and creativity by forcing you to focus on a hidden abstract object.

How to Start: While the Magic Eye website might be a bit old-fashioned, it is still regularly updated with new images for you to figure out.

14. Memorize a new joke

Learning a new joke is fun and also gives you a brand new tool to impress at parties. The closer you can get to the original version of the joke, the better your memory will become.

How to Start: Reader's Digest refreshes their jokes regularly, providing new opportunities to read and get new material.

15. Exercise

The best workouts for your brain are real workouts. Oxygen gets where it needs to go, blood flow increases, and overall health is improved. People mentally improve through enhanced cognitive and mental fitness on a workout.

How to Start: Walk slowly up a large flight of stairs.

‍16. Practice tai chi or yoga

Practicing physical activities such as tai chi or yoga can help improve balance, coordination, and agility, which are important physical skills that can help seniors maintain their mental dexterity.

How to Start: Search for “tai chi or yoga movements for seniors” on Youtube for inspiration, then begin with simple movements and gradually increase the intensity of your practice. 

17. Play word association games

Word association games can help seniors build their vocabulary, strengthen their memory recall, and stimulate creative thinking.

How to Start: Pick an everyday object or item and list as many words that are related to it as you can. Try it with a new object or item every day.

18. Have a go at arts and crafts

Arts and crafts activities can help increase focus and concentration, as well as provide a creative outlet that can help stimulate the mind.

How to Start: Choose a project that is within your skill level and start gathering the necessary supplies.

19. Play board games or cards

Playing board games and cards with friends and family can help seniors stay socially engaged and improve problem-solving skills

How to Start: select a game that everyone can enjoy (like Scrabble, Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, or Go Fish!) and start playing.

20. Participate in brain-training activities

Brain-training activities such as crosswords, Sudoku, and jigsaw puzzles can help seniors improve their concentration, logic, and reasoning skills, which are essential for mental dexterity.

How to Start: pick a brain training activity that you find interesting and start working on it every day for a month. You’ll be surprised how fast you learn over time.

Have More Tips?

Let the staff at Heritage Creek Assisted Living know! Our team is always looking for ways to improve the mental health of our residents as well as ourselves. Contact us today to share your best brain training exercises for seniors!  

Unlock Your Brain’s Potential At Heritage Creek

We hope that this blog has helped to shed some light on the many diverse brain training exercises that seniors can do to keep their minds sharp and active. 

At Heritage Creek Assisted Living, we understand how important it is to keep our residents mentally and physically fit, and are committed to providing them with the best possible care and support. That’s why we offer a wide range of activities and exercises (including many of those listed above) to help keep our residents sharp and engaged daily. 

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our assisted living facility in San Antonio, please don't hesitate to contact us today. We can’t wait to meet you or your loved one and help you discover how we can help!

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