Maintaining Mental Sharpness Cognitive Exercises for Seniors

Maintaining Mental Sharpness: Cognitive Exercises for Seniors

With age cognitive health is slowly impacted, causing seniors to lose their mental sharpness as the years go by. However, as distressing as it can be to watch something like that, you can do cognitive exercises to ensure seniors stay mentally sharp.

In fact, according to The Lancet Neurology, regular mental stimulation can reduce dementia risk by almost 40%. Also, as per Dr. Eric Kandel, a Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, "There is a wealth of evidence that engaging in mentally stimulating activities can help to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease."

In recent years, cognitive exercise has taken a very important place and forms a key component of senior wellness. Today we’ll be discussing different cognitive exercises and their benefits to enable you to improve and maintain neuroplasticity and overall cognitive health.

Understanding Cognitive Exercises for Seniors

Cognitive exercises are any activity that stimulates and engages a person’s cognitive skills. The key with these activities is that they are difficult or engaging enough to require a person to pay attention, but not so difficult that it can’t be completed without ease.

These mental exercises would challenge seniors when it comes to their memory, problem-solving skills, and focus. Jigsaw puzzles, bingo, and cards are just some examples that could help seniors with their cognitive health.

To get the most benefit, you have to find the right balance and engage in activities that build on sharpening cognitive skills and are enjoyable. As per Dr. Barbara Sahakian, a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of Cambridge, "The best brain training activities are those that you enjoy and that you can stick with over time."

Benefits of Cognitive Exercises

Before we dive deep into the benefits of cognitive exercises, it should be clarified that engaging in these activities does not in any way guarantee a reduced risk of diseases or ailments that affect cognition, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases.

However, that being said, these exercises can help in improving quality of life and, for those who do not suffer from neurodegenerative diseases, it’s a great way to stay sharp into their late-most senior years.

They Exercise The Brain

There are different elements when it comes to cognitive functioning. Decision-making, focus, processing speed, reflexes, and memory are only some of these elements and cognitive exercises exercise the brain into practicing all these different cognitive elements.

Just like you would exercise a muscle and notice a performance improvement, the same is true when it comes to exercising your brain. Seniors who engage in cognitive exercises notice an improvement in cognitive and brain health, leading to a more improved quality of life.

A Way To Beat Isolation And Depression

A major cause for the deterioration of health among seniors is depression and loneliness, and some cognitive exercises can be a great way for seniors to keep such things at bay since a lot of cognitive exercises require 2 or more players.

Bingo is one example; when seniors go to a Bingo game, they meet other people, learn new names and details, and engage with different types of people. All of this offers a great deal of mental and cognitive stimulation.

Empowerment And Confidence

While winning a simple board game might seem trivial, to a senior who has retired and been dealing with ailments, even something so small can have a massive impact. Seniors feel empowered, and confident, and it gives them a sense of control they would not always find in other avenues.

Letting seniors choose what games and activities they want to engage in and giving them the decision-making power of when and how to do it also creates a profound sense of control, further empowering them and giving them confidence.

Top Cognitive Exercises for Seniors

While we keep using the term “exercise”, a lot of these are mostly games and fun activities in which other family members can participate as well.

Word Games

Different word games like crosswords and sudoku are a great starting point for seniors to start their cognitive exercise journey. Word games are simple, help improve memory, and exercise other cognitive functions as well.

The most obvious Word games serve as effective and fun ways to engage the mind. For seniors, puzzles help to improve memory, word recall, and other functions in the brain.

You can easily find books that are filled with different word games and will keep seniors engaged for hours on end. Just make sure it’s in clear and large font to make it easier to read.

After that, all they’ll need is a comfortable place to sit and a pencil, then they’re good to go.


Books are a great way to exercise the brain and maintain cognitive health. With characters, a backdrop, and a plot to follow, there’s plenty for seniors to focus on while they turn the pages of their favorite novel.


Puzzles are also a great way to stimulate the brain. Just make sure you don’t buy a puzzle that is too complicated or has too many pieces, as it could cause seniors to get frustrated rather than feel mentally stimulated.

Another suggestion is to get a puzzle of a place or a person that holds meaning, which will cause seniors to reflect on their memories and talk about it while they’re completing their puzzle with you. This will further stimulate their memory and cognition.


Chess and other strategy games like checkers, backgammon, and dominoes work out multiple parts of the brain. Studies have shown that chess, especially, has a wide range of mental and cognitive benefits, such as raising IQ, increased creativity, and improved concentration, memory, problem-solving, and decision-making.

Invest In Assistive Devices Today

Considering what seniors go through, with their cognition slowly deteriorating with age, the risk of falls and injuries increases. While you can implement brain exercises to ensure cognitive functions stay on point, it wouldn’t hurt to take precautions.

Northwood Intouch has a line of assistive devices for seniors, including automatic fall detection sensors and alarms. Many customers testify to the effectiveness of these products and recommend others to use them.

To learn more visit Northwood Intouch. You can also call us at +1 (902) 492-3346 or email us at

Maintaining Mental Sharpness: Cognitive Exercises for Seniors