5 Ways to Mentally Stimulate the Elderly

1. Encourage Learning

There are no age limits when it comes to learning. Seniors have been known to go back to college, take their GEDs and learn new languages. Others take up new hobbies, including painting and writing.

Many learning centers, libraries and colleges offer classes geared especially to people over 60. These classes are set up so that the need for movement is minimal, and the prices are usually affordable. If you have such classes nearby, encourage your elderly relative or parent to enroll. Classes are not only a great way to stimulate the mind, but they also foster social interaction.

2. Provide Games and Puzzles

Games and puzzles are great for keeping the mind stimulated and active. But rather than letting your elderly loved one attempt the crossword puzzle in your local newspaper, find books or magazines featuring easier crossword puzzles, or buy a large puzzle that she can do a little bit at a time, over days or weeks.

3. Visit the Elderly Often

Elderly people are often lonely, either because their friends have passed away or because they are not as active as they used to be. They often have great difficulty finding activities to keep them busy. Stop by as often as you can, even if you only have time for a few minutes of stimulating conversation.

4. Push for Physical Activity

Aerobic exercise increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, improving memory and shortening reaction time. This is true for everybody, but especially for the elderly, whose level of activity is significantly lower. Elderly people may not be able to engage in activities like running, but step aerobics, walking, biking and swimming are all good options.

5. Offer Books on Audiotape

Many elderly people have eye problems and can no longer read properly. Books on tape stimulate the mind without causing eyestrain. Many audiotapes are augmented with special effects, so they stimulate the imagination and keep the mind busy. For those who prefer regular reading, large-print books may be preferable.