Mind Tweaks

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11 Best Memory Exercises for Seniors and the Elderly

4 min read

As we grow older, our ability to remember things starts to wane. We tend to forget even the simplest things. This memory loss, if not checked, can develop into a serious disease such as dementia. Everybody wants to retain their memory for as long as possible. Memories constitute a huge part of who we are. When we lose them, we feel like we have lost pieces of ourselves.

Luckily, the following are eleven memory exercises for seniors that have been proven to keep the mind active and functioning optimally:

1. Loci Memory Exercises

Loci is one of the best memory exercises for seniors. This method uses familiar places and objects. You choose a familiar place like a house, a path, or even a regular driving route. You are required to visualize that place in your mind and create a distinct mental journey based on objects and landmarks.

This, in essence, enables you to associate every piece of information you need to recall with a specific object or landmark that’s part of the mental journey or memory palace.

2. Art and Crafts

When all the five senses are used regularly, the brain remains active and healthy. You can engage in simple creative art and crafts like quilting and pottery. You can make rag dolls for children. Listen and sing along to the music. Drawing “absentmindedly,” often referred to as doodling, is suitable for your powers of attention and recall.

When listening to someone talk or learning something new, making doodles may help your brain to stay alert. It can also connect pieces of information and retain it for later use. If you are living in a retirement home, there are even arts and crafts classes that you can take to hone your artistic talent.

3. Word Exercises and Sudoku

Crossword puzzles are some of the best memory exercises for seniors and the elderly. These puzzles and games can be found in newspapers and puzzle books. Sudoku is like a crossword puzzle, but it uses numbers instead of words.

The crossword puzzle is composed of nine squares down and nine squares across. Each row or column must have only one number between one and nine

4. Sensory Stimulation Exercises

The brain can be stimulated by sensory data. Use all the five senses to stimulate and wake up the brain. Listen to good music, taste some delicious food, look at something amazing, touch something soft, or light a scented candle for that pleasant aroma. Using and paying attention to sensory stimuli raises and heightens sensory memory and awareness.

5. Card Games and Chess

Engaging in card games like Solitaire, Hearts, Poker, Rummy, and Fish exercises the brain and can delay memory loss and dementia, which are associated with aging. Playing these card games helps to maintain brain vitality. You can also boot your brainpower by playing chess, a strategy game that also boots your cognitive ability. The brain requires daily workouts to stay fit. Any game that involves strategy exercises the brain.

6. Reading

Reading uses the brain and helps in word recall. You can read books, newspapers, or even magazines to boost your brainpower. In a memory and ageing study, a neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Yonas Geda, found that engaging in cognitive activities such as reading prevents future memory loss.

Reading is not only good for opening new memory areas, but it also provides access to old memories as well. It adds memory capacity without any effort at actual memorization. When reading, try to read aloud. Just as writing stuff down helps your brain to store information in long-term memory storage, so does reading out loud.

7. Learn Something New and Complex

One of the best ways to exercise and improve brainpower is to learn a new language, learn how to play a new instrument, or even take a cooking class. The process of learning and memorizing the steps required and repeating the process over time boosts brain recall.

8. Test Yourself

You can get a book and use it to write down daily activities and observations of things that interest you. As you go through your entries later, try to visualize the events that you had earlier described or the things you saw.

Another way of testing your memory is to make a list of the things you need to buy during your next visit to the supermarket. Try to remember them later before referring to your list to see how many items you got right.

9. Play Video Games

Playing video games is a great memory exercise for seniors. It helps to boost their brainpower. Playing games helps the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. These two areas of the brain form complex thought and memory processors. Playing games lowers the risk of dementia.

10. Travel

Any break from the norm is great for your brain. Perform simple tasks such as taking a different route home from work. You may also run different errands to challenge yourself. Visiting a different state or country opens up your mind, and so does visiting local attractions such as a botanical garden or one of your country’s museums.

11. Cues and Reminders

Visual or auditory prompts help you remember things you need to do. Such prompts include post-it notes and alarms that are easy to set up. However, remember to place these reminders where you’re most likely to see or hear them. You can also leave important objects in prominent locations that remind you of the tasks you have to do.

Having a good memory serves all kinds of practical functions in our daily lives. Every day, your memory helps you accomplish both basic and complex tasks. The above exercises can keep your brain healthy and as fit as possible.