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Brain Activities for Seniors for Keeping the Mind Sharp

As we age, we are inundated with messages about staying physically fit in order to extend our longevity and wellbeing—from worrying about our hearts and blood pressure to keeping our bones and joints in good condition to maintaining our vision and skin health. But it is just as important, if not more important, to stay mentally fit.

Brain health can be measured in many ways, but the most important metric is how sharp, how agile, or how nimble the mind is. How quickly can you recall information like which day it is today or which year you graduated high school? Can you remember the name of the song you just heard on the radio or the shopping list someone just recited to you? How long does it take you to produce the names of old friends or important historical dates?

Regularly engaging in some memory exercises for seniors (or anyone) can help maintain and improve mental agility so that your mind stays fit and focused as you age. Here are a few ideas to get you started on your brain-exercise regimen.

Jigsaw Puzzles
Who knew all those humble jigsaw puzzles you did as a kid were actually excellent for your brain development and spatial reasoning? Puzzles are a great way to exercise your brain’s ability to identify, remember, and match shapes as well as color, texture, and size. For an extra challenge, consider assembling a puzzle upside-down, with blank pieces, where you’ll only have the pieces’ shapes to guide you. Other great cognitive puzzles for seniors include Sudoku, Scrabble, word searches, Rubik’s Cubes, or crossword puzzles.

Trivial Pursuit or Other Trivia Games
Simple fact recall is one of the key ways doctors measure a person’s brain agility. Whether it be facts about decades-old history, random minutiae about a famous artwork or artist, or the latest updates in a contemporary news stories, engaging in a trivia game of any kind can help keep you and your brain sharp and swift. Try a website like Sporcle or Lumosity for some novelty and variety.

Study a New Language
You don’t have to become fluent to reap the cognitive rewards of studying a new language! Simply taking the time to learn the basics of a new language and memorizing a few words and phrases can go a long way toward keeping your brain sharp and providing it with new challenges. Set a goal of being able to, say, order dinner in a restaurant, ask where the train station is, and describe your life to someone in a basic way are excellent starts. Try downloading the free Duolingo smartphone app or another web-based program to get started.

Reciting Geography Facts
The rivers of western Europe, the capitals of all 200+ countries, all the mountain ranges in Colorado, all 61 of America’s national parks—it doesn’t matter which topographical features call to you the loudest, brushing up on your high school geography knowledge is another great way to exercise your memory and recall skills.

Word-Based Games like Scattergories, Scrabble, or Words With Friends
Games that force you to come up with words or phrases on the fly or those that require you to generate a word from a jumble of letters can be terrific for brain stimulation. These kinds of word games help activate the parts of your brain responsible for language and word recall, and they also often require a second person for full play, so they’re also good for staying socially active.

Embrace a New Hobby
In the end, the most important gift you can give your mind is novelty, so pretty much anything new or different will likely help improve your cognitive functioning. This could range from starting a garden to honing your baking skills to becoming a painter to making a scrapbook (which is also great for revisiting and recollecting old memories!). This could also include physical activities like nature walks, canoeing, or low-impact sports, which help support brain health and stave off mind-deteriorating conditions.

These mind-stimulating games for seniors are great for keeping one’s brain sharp as one ages—but they’re also great for people of all ages. Lifelong learning, brain exercise, and a spirit of mental exploration are the keys to staying mentally fit, and it’s never too early to start working out your brain. The more you sleep, exercise your brain, and stay physically active, the better off you and your brain will be as you age.


At Regency Senior Communities, we view mental fitness and mental health as major components in our residents’ health and happiness. Many of our daily activities and events are geared toward improving cognitive health and physical wellbeing. From brain teasers and card games that help keep the mind fit to computer and cooking classes that provide new challenges to tai chi and movement exercises that foster the mind-body connection, we are always looking for new ways to keep our residents physically and mentally engaged.