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Senior Health

Easy-To-Do Mental Exercises For Seniors

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 4/15/2010 10:52:24 AM

Ready for some gymnastics, seniors? Gymnastics, as in mental gymnastics, to sharpen the mind and improve memory.

There are many ways in which seniors can engage in mental exercises. On their own, with a friend or family member, or with a caregiver. Participating actively in physical exercise also helps keep the mind keen. Let's get started.

How Much Time Does It Take?

A mere hour per day of mental exercise is enough to keep memory active and the mind sharp, according to The National Institutes of Health (NIH). Benefits last up to five years, and seniors who actively exercise their brains are more able to maintain control over daily tasks including money management, according to the NIH.

Engage the Body

One surefire way to stay sharp is to get moving. A daily 20-minute walk improves memory skills and concentration and abstract reasoning.

Learn Something

Today's word. Use a dictionary to look up a word you read in a book, heard someone else use, or saw on a TV show. Or look up a random word, then write a paragraph using that word.

Research a subject. Find a subject that interests you and head to the library to find books on the subject and/or use the Internet for research.

Engage in a new activity. Learning a hands-on activity will engage the sense of touch, along with mental challenges. The activity could be learning how to play Chess, cribbage, or a new card game. Or try something artistic including pottery or painting.

Start a blog or journal. Blogging presents new challenges and learning opportunities for seniors, while giving them a creative and expressive outlet.

Seniors who blog are in good company, as 22 percent of people 65 and older were using the Internet as of 2004, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.


Play a simple memory game with a deck of cards. Turn over the cards, face down and turn over two at a time looking for matches. Keep the cards face down when no match is found.

Play board or computer computers, puzzles, or group games including Bingo. Regular games of Bingo help keep brains sharp, according to the Franklin Institute,

Organizing Exercises

Name the members of your family alphabetically. Try it again by age, including youngest to oldest and oldest to youngest. Or, try a list of names in order of their birthdays, starting with January.

Name the states in alphabetical order, or try naming cities, colors, types of birds or dogs, or any other group of information with which you are familiar.

The Basics

Read. Seniors should continue to read, and have a caregiver help them with eye wear if they need new glasses. Read books, newspapers or magazines on any subject that interests you.

Challenge yourself by recalling the information you read by relaying it to someone you know.

Try Something Different

Slightly change the way you perform a daily activity, in order to engage the senses. For example, switch hands when you use a computer mouse, eat or brush your teeth. This technique is referred to as Neurobics. Neurobic activities are intended to help strengthen and preserve brain cells, according to the Franklin Institute.

Break Your Routine

Break up your routine, including your mental exercise routine, recommends the American Society on Aging. Continue to challenge yourself with mental exercises and learning pursuits that are a challenge, and slightly outside your comfort zone.

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