3 Things Seniors Can Do to Retain Cognitive Function

November 21, 2017

Our cognitive abilities drive our everyday activities. They control our perception, judgment, awareness, and knowledge, all underlying our ability to live full lives and have meaningful interactions with others.

Maintaining these mental faculties is essential to remaining happy in the later stages of life for seniors. Some experience the loss of these abilities naturally through the progression of time, an inescapable consequence of old age. In others, it could signal the onset of a disease like Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease, or multiple sclerosis.

Both cases are distressing, but there are things seniors, especially those in assisted living communities, can do to keep their wits sharp. The brain is a muscle, and just like all other muscles, it must be exercised to maintain its strength. Here are some activities seniors can do to keep their brains operating at maximum power.

Hobbies and Crafts

Taking up a new hobby or craft is a great way for seniors to stimulate their minds with a fun and engaging activity. Many pursuits can improve memory recall, attention to detail, hand-to-eye coordination, and other mental faculties. Projects like drawing, scrapbooking, painting, photography, playing music, and knitting are easy to handle and inexpensive crafts that can be taken up. Some assisted living communities even schedule these events and encourage their residents to try them.

Cooking is another activity that can help maintain cognitive function. A person’s ability to plan, follow directions, and judge when the dish is done are all tests of mental acuity, particularly when baking. When these tests are passed, the participant is rewarded with a delicious treat as a testament to their mental fortitude.

Games and Puzzles

For generations, crossword puzzles, word searches, and puzzle books have been hugely popular with people of all ages because they provide hours of straightforward yet entrancing entertainment. Solving these brainteasers can be quite challenging and require substantial mental energy. They allow seniors to flex their cognitive muscles, which can help stave off numerous degenerative brain diseases.


Social interaction is one of the most beneficial things seniors can do to retain their mental abilities. Meaningful conversations with others can provide a certain level of stimulation that things like games and cooking cannot. Daily conversations can be incredibly varied, requiring using almost every mental cognitive faculty.

People in older age sometimes experience long periods of social isolation, and there have been several studies linking this to depression, which eventually leads to decreased mental capacities like memory and concentration. Being social allows seniors to engage their brains while developing relationships with others.

Assisted living communities are great places for seniors to make and foster connections. They promote interaction among residents and allow family and friends to visit, all of which can keep a person’s spirits high and their neurons firing at full speed.

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