Cognitive Stimulation for Elders: List of Exercises That Can Help


Worried that as you age, your mind is losing its faculties? The mind can be trained and that is why there is cognitive stimulation for the elderly. It may seem to you that this type of activity is for people with neural diseases and, in part, you are absolutely right. However, there are cognitive stimulation activities that serve to improve the abilities of perfectly healthy people and delay the degenerative effects of age.

This technique allows people of a certain age to train the mind to improve their cognitive abilities and slow down the problems that age often brings. In fact, what is currently being promoted is active aging, which means taking advantage of retirement to learn, exercise and socialize. A combination that not only has an impact on improving quality of life, but also has a positive influence on a person’s health.

We explain what you can do to have an active mind, but remember that being physically healthy is just as important to active aging.

What Is Cognitive Stimulation for Seniors?

Cognitive stimulation for seniors consists of activities to maintain or improve brain function. Having a good cognitive functioning allows an active and healthy aging, at the same time, it positively influences the state of mind and the quality of life of the person, since he/she sees that he/she does not lose his/her faculties and continues to be autonomous.

This set of activities and techniques is used to promote cognitive functions through memory, attention, learning, concentration or language exercises. The goal is to maintain brain function and delay cognitive deterioration, particularly with age or neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

The goals of cognitive stimulation for adults are:

  • To feel fitter and generally healthier.
  • To improve the person’s independence and safety.
  • To prevent the person from becoming disconnected from their environment and to maintain social relationships.
  • Improve the quality of life of the patient, as well as the family and caregiver.
  • More self-esteem and personal identity.
  • Avoidance of stress.
  • Functional performance.
  • More independence for activities of daily living.

Which People Can Do Cognitive Exercises?

Cognitive stimuli for the elderly are aimed, in part, at people who, due to age, are beginning to suffer some loss of cognitive functionality or want to delay its onset. In addition, they are very important when neurodegenerative pathologies appear, as they serve as a complement to drug treatment.

Here are some of the people who should do this type of cognitive exercise:

  • People with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Patients with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Patients who have had a stroke.
  • People with schizophrenia.
  • People with intellectual disabilities.
  • Elderly people.

Types of Cognitive Exercises for the Elderly

Cognitive exercises vary depending on, firstly, the disease from which the person suffers, secondly, the degree of affectation and, thirdly, it is taken into account if the vision, hearing or speech apraxia are affected. From this, we find two types of exercises:

  • Cognitive stimulation exercises for the elderly: they keep the mind active in addition to its cognitive processes. Activities such as attention or calculation exercises are prepared, which would be much more specific. Although it is also an activity of reading a book, attending a lecture or playing board games. The main objective is to keep the person’s mind active and, if it is with activities that interest them, much better.
  • Cognitive rehabilitation exercises for the elderly: indicated for people with a disease, so they are designed to delay the deterioration or recover mental abilities. They are very specific exercises programmed for the person in question.

How to Choose Exercises for Cognitive Stimulation

For people with neurological diseases, it is important that their exercise regimen is managed by a neurologist or a specialist in these processes. For the elderly, it is recommended to have an active aging, in this sense, it is advisable to stay mentally and physically busy, so it is good to look for physical exercises to do during the week. Ultimately, all this will serve to have a normal aging.

It is important not to stop doing the activities that you like, playing sports, walking, reading, learning (either a new language, ceramics, painting or photography), going to conferences and participating in all kinds of activities that can enrich you personally. .

Also, currently, for people who do not have dementia, you can find many exercises to activate the mind. Whether it is workbooks or interactive games on the computer or on mobile devices or electronic tablets.

When choosing materials, it is important to consider what you want to work on:

  • Memory: the ability to remember events, emotions or people in the short and long term.
  • Decision-making capacity, i.e. executive functions: being able to plan and order activities and actions.
  • Language: the ability to communicate, speak and understand.
  • Attention: ability to pay attention to one thing without distraction.
  • Orientation: recognizing where you are, what time of day, and where you are going.

Before You Start Doing Cognitive Stimulation Exercises

For older adults without cognitive impairment due to disease, it is important to encourage them to do what they want. They are autonomous people with decision-making ability, so the important thing is to instill in them the relevance of keeping their minds and bodies active.

In the case of elderly people with neurological diseases, the approach must be different and will vary according to the degree of involvement of the pathology. It is important to propose activities and exercises adapted to the state of the disease and it is strongly recommended that neurology professionals have prepared it. From this, our recommendations are as follows:

  1. Patience, especially if the person you want to help is in an advanced state.
  2. Sessions can last no longer than an hour, even if you have mild cognitive impairment.
  3. Try to keep the person motivated to do their best when doing the exercises.
  4. Adapt the difficulty of the exercises to the person’s level. Normally, the greater the cognitive impairment, the lower the difficulty.
  5. It is advisable to combine cognitive stimulation exercises with other games (board games, cards or flashcards).

List of Cognitive Exercises for Seniors

There are different activities that you can find online that serve to improve mental capacity:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Calculation
  • Language
  • Perception
  • Praxis

Mental Exercises for Seniors

There are exercises to improve the mental agility and cognitive abilities of the elderly. They serve to keep the mind fit and improve performance. Hobbies, spotting differences or sudoku puzzles are some examples. There are many applications for cell phones or tablets that can offer you a more interactive game, but if this does not convince you, you can always turn to the typical exercise or hobby books.

In addition, it has been studied that meditation and yoga exercises serve to keep the mind active and stimulated. In case the person is voluntary, we recommend yoga since, at the same time, you work the body.