As we grow older, our bodies rely upon exercise to stay fit and strong. If we do not use our bodies, then we will lose the ability to physically function the way we desire. The mind is the same way. Seniors must exercise their minds through mental stimulation to ensure they remain sharp and maintain their cognitive skills.
Fortunately, there are many fun and easy ways to stay sharp while growing older. The following outlines the importance of mental stimulation for the elderly and effective ways to stimulate mental skills and cognition.
Understanding Why Mental Stimulation Is Important
At a young age, there are many things that keep our minds working and constantly improving, including work, raising children, and managing relationships. However, as we grow older, retire, and see loved ones settle into their own lives, the mind can often experience less stimulation. Without mental stimulation, the elderly are at risk of declining cognitive skills including:
Fortunately, there are simple and easy mental stimulation tasks designed to keep the mind sharp. Mental stimulation offers many benefits for the elderly, including the ability to stay connected, improved overall health, and a sense of accomplishment.
Keeps the elderly connected
Something as simple as making an effort to have conversations with others daily can help the elderly maintain their cognitive abilities. Additionally, it allows the elderly to stay connected in the lives of the people they care about. Whether it is calling a loved one or reminiscing about memories with a significant other, taking the time to connect with someone through conversation can help the elderly stay involved and mentally sharp.
Improves their overall health
Mental stimulation can have a positive impact on overall health. The more active our minds are, the less likely it is that seniors develop mental health problems and physical disabilities. For seniors who deal with depression or anxiety, mental stimulation tasks can reduce the symptoms and help them feel happier each day. Mental stimulation also helps with stress reduction. Stress can have an impact on our overall health, and controlling stress through mental stimulation is a great way to increase the chance of living a longer and happier life.
New skills elevate the sense of accomplishment
The elderly often have to adjust to a new lifestyle. For the majority of their lives, they dedicate themselves to work, relationships, and much more. After retirement, the feeling of accomplishment goes away for many seniors. Developing new skills and interacting with others through mental stimulation increases the sense of accomplishment and gives seniors tasks and something to look forward to each day. Retirement does not mean becoming inactive. There are ways to stay sharp mentally.
Ways to Stimulate Mental Skills and Cognition
There are many different ways to stimulate the mind and refine mental skills and cognition. Every individual is unique, and the tasks one prefers may differ from someone else’s preferred tasks. However, there are some tasks that are more common and effective than others.
Also, keep in mind that mental stimulation does not have to be a complex task. It can be as simple as having a conversation with someone. In addition to constant communication with others, the following are five effective mental stimulation strategies for the elderly.
One of the biggest concerns seniors have is that they may begin to lose their memory. Memory plays an important role in behavior, personality, and happiness. Fortunately, there are mental stimulation tasks designed to keep memory sharp. One easy task seniors can use to keep their memory sharp is recall testing.
Seniors can do so by making a list of daily tasks they complete, such as going shopping, going for a walk, having a conversation with someone, playing a board game, etc. At the end of the day, make a list of everything that was done to see how much is remembered.
Listening to music lyrics
Music helps with mental skills and cognition in a variety of ways. Music is fun to listen to, and it produces positive feelings. It can also bring back positive memories that help the mind stay sharp.
Additionally, listening closely to the lyrics activates the brain and is a form of mental stimulation. Be sure to pay attention to the words used and process them, which helps the mind stay active while increasing the overall mood of the individual.
Basic mathematical skill testing
Calling upon our mathematical skills is a great way to increase brain stimulation and keep the mind sharp. Working out more complex math problems and equations on paper may help, but seniors can practice mental stimulation by doing simple math problems in their head.
Seniors can either set aside time for mathematical skills testing or use it during random moments of the day. For example, counting the number of chess pieces on a board and multiplying them by the number of boards inside the game room to determine how many chess pieces there are is a simple way to keep the mind sharp through mental stimulation.
Word picture visualizations
The imagination is powerful. If we can keep our imagination stimulated and active, then cognitive skills can remain strong. One simple task to consider is word picture visualizations. This involves seeing an object and imagining the word inside of your head. When you can see the word, spell it out. It may seem simple, but it is a productive way to stay mentally sharp while growing older.
Engaging in puzzles and board games
Puzzles are one of the best ways to stay mentally sharp. Board games such as checkers and chess can have a similar effect. For those who are more artistic, drawing and painting is a great mental stimulation exercise as well.
Reach Out to an In-Home Care Agency Today!
Comfort Home Care offers in-home care for seniors who need additional assistance each day. To learn more about how in-home care can help elderly individuals remain mentally sharp, get in touch with us today.