Mentally Stimulating Exercises for Alzheimer’s and Dementia

As we get older, our minds and bodies change. Alzheimer’s and dementia impact the mind, leading to memory loss and cognitive impairment. Over 6.7 million senior adults have Alzheimer’s or experience dementia-related symptoms in America alone, and these conditions are also starting to impact adults at younger ages.   Mental stimulation is a core component of managing dementia and the effects of Alzheimer’s. Let’s explore what exercises seniors can use to stay sharp.

The Importance of Mental Stimulation for Adults and Seniors With Alzheimer’s and Dementia

It is often said that the mind is a muscle. Those with Alzheimer’s and dementia often experience this particular “muscle” start to weaken. As these conditions increase in severity, they can cloud the mind, causing common Alzheimer’s disease symptoms like poor memory, reduced mental acuity, and worse overall brain performance.   There is no simple cure for these conditions, and everyone’s approach to Alzheimer’s care will vary. However, it is well-known that mentally stimulating exercises can be a great form of memory care regardless of where you fall with a BCAT Cognitive Test.   With regular practice, you can sharpen the mind and push back against some of the more common Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

Helpful Mentally Stimulating Exercises That Can Support Cognition

Many of us feel that we stop actively learning after school, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Adults and seniors can do plenty of easy exercises at home to stimulate their minds and receive memory care.   Find exercises or services that align with your interests, and start there. These options can help you choose a direction!

Practicing New Languages

Learning a new language is a wonderful way to stimulate the mind and gain a new skill. In today’s world, learning a new language is easier than it has ever been, thanks to language apps and computer systems.   As you learn new alphabets, words, and sentence structures, your mind will sharpen a little each day!

Exploring Writing Exercises

Few creative activities are as accessible and approachable as writing. Since it focuses on linear thought, word selection, and creativity, it is a highly stimulating activity—and this is true no matter how you approach it!   The simple act of writing can help you to think more critically, use your mind, and stimulate different parts of the brain. There are plenty of great exercises to try, including:
  • Journaling
  • Writing about a specific topic
  • Writing a creative story or novel
  • Writing about experiences or what you have observed
  • Writing from a list of story prompts

Playing Brain Games

Games may not seem like the perfect way to hone the mind, but they really can be. Most games rely on logic and understanding, and you have to think to participate. Choosing brain games is a great way to have fun and stimulate your mind at the same time.   Common Brain Game Examples:
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Word searches
  • Number games
  • Card games
  • Picture puzzles
  If you’re not sure where to start, you can always download a brain training app to gain access to all kinds of brain games!

Learning a New Skill

The act of learning is one of the best ways to stimulate the mind, and it can be highly enjoyable, too. As you explore a new skill and learn how it works, you will challenge your mind and encourage your brain to strengthen over time.   The skill that you choose does not need to be terribly complicated or challenging. Even everyday tasks can help to stimulate the mind.   Easy Starter Skills Include:
  • Knitting
  • Sewing
  • Quilting
  • Writing
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Gardening
  • Cooking

Reading Different Genres

The connection between reading habits and mental acuity is very well documented. Reading is a great practice that challenges the mind, even if you are only reading for pleasure.   Taking the time to read any material is a step in the right direction. However, for a real brain stretch, it can really help to explore different genres. Each genre has new patterns and structures to learn from.   Common Genres Include:
  • Literary classics
  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Modern literature
  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Romance

Recreating Your Family Tree

Mental recall is a very important skill, and it is a wonderful way to test and strengthen your memory. For this exercise, you can use what you already have—knowledge of your family.   Take time to write out your family tree. Think of all your nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, cousins, second cousins, and unofficial family friends. Make a nice and tidy family tree that allows you to write them out and document their connections!

Themed Trivia Challenges

Trivia may not seem like the easiest exercise if you are struggling with your memory. However, it can be a wonderful option if you choose something you’re more comfortable with.   For this exercise, explore trivia on your favorite topics and have fun. It also helps if the trivia is fairly limited or likely to repeat. This allows you to learn, recall, and test your memory so you can see your performance improve.   A simple set of themed trivia cards can be perfect for memory exercises!

Practicing Simple Mathematics

Math may not be everyone’s favorite subject, but basic mathematics is an important part of life. From calculating tips to measuring out serving sizes, math is a big part of our world. Taking time to practice it can really help.   Focus on simple options, including:
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Basic multiplication
  • Basic division
  • Number patterns

Logic Puzzles

Logic and reason are two core mental factors that we use every single day. Since logic requires us to figure things out and follow logical patterns, it is a wonderful way to strengthen the mind.   Common Logic Puzzles:
  • Sudoku
  • Solitaire
  • Cryptograms
  • Mysteries

Playing Games

The best learning and mental exercise happens when we also have fun. Games of all kinds are a truly wonderful way to stimulate the mind, and they can be an exceptional opportunity to connect with loved ones, too. Board games, mobile games, video games—every type of game will encourage you to think critically and use logic.   Find one that interests you, and have fun!

Support a Healthy Mind Through Your Later Years

Currently, there is no single approach to Alzheimer dementia care. However, a little activity every single day can help.   Finding the right support is also important for those in need of extra mental stimulation and care. Fortunately, mental exercises are often included with senior care services and home care services.   Home care is a perfect opportunity to receive professional memory support based on individual needs with all the comforts of home. Of course, it helps to pursue your own exercises outside of dedicated senior and home care services as well.   Look for memory exercises and activities that challenge the mind and entertain you. Your commitment to memory care will show over time.   For additional support, explore our home care Broward County services today!   References: