Top 10 Mental Exercises to Improve Memory
Keeping your mind sharp is easier than you think. These top 10 mental exercises help improve memory.
Doing all you can to stay strong and active is a goal everyone should have as they head into their later years; that includes stimulating your mind and memory. Although medical experts say doing brain-stimulating exercises won’t reduce the risk or slow the progression of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, their wide variety of life-enhancing benefits can significantly improve seniors’ lives.
Here are our picks for the top 10 mental exercises to improve memory for those living at home, or in an assisted living or memory care community setting:
- Trivia Games
Whether it’s simply watching a game like Jeopardy on television or setting up a weekly trivia contest with teams of friends, the challenge of remembering facts, history, and pop culture can keep the mind sharp. In addition to mental stimulation, getting together to match wits can provide an enjoyable source of entertainment and a way to socialize with others.
- Jigsaw Puzzles
Think of these colorful and engaging pictures assembling games as multifaceted mind exercises in a box. Studies have shown putting together jigsaw puzzles can help improve visual-spatial reasoning, short-term memory, and problem-solving skills. It can also help slow breathing rates which helps reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure.
And because they come in a range of sizes anywhere from 100 to 3,000 puzzle pieces, you can find one to suit anyone’s cognitive and visual capabilities. You can even subscribe to clubs and get new puzzles delivered to your door on a monthly or quarterly basis.
One of the most popular card games in the world. This classic pastime is thought to exercise the brain by challenging thinking and memory skills. Perfect for seniors, this slow-paced game can be played with physical cards or online, allowing players to take as long as they like to complete it.
Another classic and universally loved game, this word-centric pastime is a great way to stimulate memory and spend enjoyable time with families of all ages. The game combines the challenge of remembering words that can be created with the tiles and strategizing which positions to put them in to achieve the highest score.
This number puzzle challenges players to fill a grid with numbers 1-9, with each number appearing only once in each row, column and box. Sudoku requires players to remember a set of numbers and put them in certain places in order to win. Like many other memory games, Sudoku puzzles are available in magazines and newspapers as well as online.
Invented in 7th century India, chess encourages the use of strategy and creative thinking. Although many consider it a game reserved for the highly intelligent, it has simple rules which are easy to learn while requiring practice to master. As with most games, chess is available online but has the added advantage of being very popular in many senior centers and parks. Playing chess in these settings is a great opportunity for seniors to work on their memory skills while socializing with others under a clear, bright sky.
- Brain Yoga
While most people have heard of physical yoga, few are aware there is a yoga practice that focuses on the brain. One of the easiest physical activities to master, it provides a mentally challenging activity for seniors that requires no equipment and can be done anywhere and anytime. Brain yoga focuses on using the body to stimulate the mind, which can help strengthen neural pathways and improve motor abilities including eye-hand coordination. Each brain yoga exercise requires a unique kind of concentration that improves cognitive abilities.
Getting lost in a good story is a great way to boost brain power by stimulating the imagination with fiction or encouraging critical thought with non-fiction. Readily available for free at local libraries and for a nominal cost online, reading books keeps your mind alive whether reading them alone or as part of a book club.
- Crossword Puzzles
A longtime favorite of newspaper readers, crossword puzzles not only challenge the player's mind to think of words that answer the given clues, but they also require them to take into consideration how those words will fit together and work with the rest of the puzzle. Aside from traditional crosswords, other word puzzles popular with seniors include word search challenges, old-fashioned hangman, and finish-the-saying games.
- Arts and Crafts
Having a beautiful hand-knitted sweater or woodworking box to show from hours of concentrated effort isn’t the only benefit seniors get from engaging in arts and crafts. Working with materials in a creative way engages the mind, occupies the body, and uplifts the spirit in a way that energizes thinking and enhances memory.
It’s easier than you think to keep your mind sharp by doing these top 10 mental exercises to improve memory. Begin doing them and see the results for yourself.
MorningStar Senior Living — Memory Care Community
If your loved one lives far from family and friends, it could be time to move into a memory care community near their adult children where they’ll have the companionship of fellow seniors and a compassionate service team. At MorningStar Senior Living, a 24/7 team is dedicated to offer care and hospitality services that meet each resident’s social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.