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The 10 Best Brain-Simulating Activities for Seniors

When it comes to our later years, the policy of "use it or lose it" becomes an important factor to consider. It's getting up and walking every day that helps you maintain the muscle to rise and to walk. The same is true of your brain. Keeping your mind active and challenged is the best way to avoid lost mental capacity in old age.

The good news is that keeping your brain stimulated will make for an interesting and fun retirement. Staying entertained and challenged isn't just enjoyable, it's doctor recommended.

1) Challenge Yourself with Math and Word Puzzles

Take on the puzzle book (or app) lifestyle and start challenging yourself with puzzle games. Math games like sudoku are tough but also meditative as you figure out the right place for each number. Word games like crosswords access your reference and language centers and challenge you to make connections as you play. Both can be either relaxing or highly motivating.


2) Let Your Hands Do the Thinking with Crafts 

One interesting way to keep your brain active is to craft something your hands know how to make. When you keep your hands busy, a large portion of your brain is still tracking and controlling what you do, even once it starts to feel automatic. Part of keeping your mind limber can be crafting and doing complex processes with your hands while you talk, listen, or meditate.


3) Mysteries and Escape Rooms

Escape rooms and mystery games are experiencing an overwhelming popularity across all age groups. Young professionals, especially, are having fun with puzzle scenarios - and you should too. From mystery novels to curated party experiences, dive into mysteries and challenge yourself to solve puzzles in using clues. 

You can find mysteries and, now, escape rooms in almost every genre, including reading, live experiences, and video games.


4) Play Chess In-Person or Online

Everyone knows chess stimulates the brain, and there are now many ways to play with partners and computers. You can play chess in person with a friend or online with other online players. You can play chess against a computer at varying difficulties or even play multiple games of chess at once with the right app.


5) Trivia Nights and Reference Games

Any cross-referencing game can help stretch and exercise your brain. That's why trivia night is such great fun for multi-generational events. Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, and other games that make you think about and use your many less-referenced memories. Challenge yourself to remember things you haven't thought about in years and use those facts in interesting and amusing ways.


6) Reading Fiction Novels

Fantasy is also great for exercising your brain. It's because fantasy stories make you think new thoughts - things you may have never thought of before. New brain wrinkles and new ways to use the knowledge you already have. That can keep your brain limber. Whether you're reading about dragons and sorcerers or robots and spaceships.

In fact, even mundane fiction like historical fantasy and detective novels can open your mind and keep your brain stimulated with every paper or digital turn of the page.


7) Learn a New Language

Ever want to learn another language? Whether you're learning your second language or adding a new language to your collection, this is a great way to stretch your brain. Every new word you learn connects with other words you already know. You connect phonemes to meanings and context to words. This keeps your mind limber like crossword puzzles, but more interactive.

Duo Lingo is a great game-like way to learn many global languages and is easier than starting with workbooks.


8) Learn a Dance or Martial Art

You can also stimulate your brain by moving your body. Learn to do something new with your arms and legs. Learn a dance or start learning a martial art. You can teach yourself tai chi routines to dance your joints awake each morning. Or learn a line dance or a couple's dance to show off at the next family wedding.

Teaching yourself a new routine, practicing hand-eye and limb coordination, and learning new muscle memory will all help to stimulate your brain and keep your mind active.


9) Going on a Picnic

Have relatives who want to play memory games? One of the best that requires no cards or game pieces is "Going on a picnic".

Each person is going on the picnic and is bringing something that starts with their letter of the alphabet, starting with A or Z and working through.The next person lists the previous item and their item coming on the picnic and so on around the circle.


10) Play Online Games and Video Games

Finally, get into video games. It's not just a young person's industry. Video games are easy on the joints and tough on the brain. Choose which ever game is most enjoyable and playable. Join online communities. Manage guilds, build empires, or tackle puzzles and single-player storylines. There are online platforms to download new games and emulators to play the platformers, side-scrollers, and top-down games of your younger years.

Keeping your brain stimulated and active is an important factor to consider when aging. A home health aide can help you with many of these stimulating and entertaining activities. Contact us today to find out more about how a home health aide can help you with activities of daily living.


Written by: Leah Ganz
Director of Patient Services

Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain managemnet and internal medicine. She oversees allpatient services across Elite's departments.