Stimulating social and mental activities can help keep brains sharp, improve memory and help with daily life skills. They can also be an enjoyable and fun way to spend time with the beloved elders in your life.
The following seven activities can help support brain health and memory while providing companionship, conversation and pure simple fun:
- My father works in the grocery store. This is a delightful guessing game that works for two players or a group. The first person thinks of an item sold in a grocery store and says, “My father works in the grocery store and the product he sells begins with the letter P.” (This letter is the first letter of whatever the product is. In this case the answer is pomegranate.) The other player(s) ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no, such as: Is it in the produce section? Is it edible? Is it green? The game continues with questions leading to guesses of what the product is until someone gets the right answer. Then the winner thinks of the next item and the game begins again.
- Shopping list game. In this memory game one person begins with, “I went to the store and bought some fish.” The next person repeats the line and continues by adding an item, “I went to the store and bought some fish and some rice.” With each turn the list grows and the game continues until no one can remember all of the items. Everyone may experience some good laughs with this game.
- Name two words for each letter in your first name. A simple version is to come up with any two words, or the focus can change to qualities, or objects.
For example: MARY
You get the idea. This can be creative and loads of fun.
- Trivia games. Choose topics that are of special interest to your elder such as music, art, history, sports or geography. Trivia games are wonderfully stimulating to the minds of older people.
- Learn a new language together and practice using the newly learned words. You can keep it simple with just a few words or phrases such as “Hello,” “Good evening,” “How are you?” in French or Spanish or any language of interest. Enjoy using these words and phrases in simple conversation, then learn more as it feels comfortable and manageable.
- Jigsaw puzzles can be stimulating to the mind and also provide a calm and comforting companionship as you work on them together. This activity can help quiet the mind, which may be especially helpful for seniors with busy minds.
- Try the serving tray game to enhance short term memory. This game is great for visual folks. Place a selection of different objects from around the house on a tray. Let those who are playing have a look, then cover up the objects with a cloth. Then ask the seniors playing to recall what items they remember.
There are many possibilities for games to play with elders that may also have beneficial results. Some that are more familiar include bingo, chess, card games, Sudoku, logic puzzles, online interactive games, and also arts and crafts projects. Find out what your loved one enjoys and build from there.
The National Institute on Aging offers a helpful article on Cognitive Health and Older Adults. It gives tips on the following steps that help elders with day-to-day functioning and independence. These steps have been linked to cognitive health, as well.
- Take care of your health
- Eat healthy foods
- Be physically active
- Keep your mind active
- Stay connected
Engaging companionship with someone who cares can provide many benefits for elders. To learn more about home companion services by licensed caregivers, contact Take My Hand At-Home Care, which provides elder care for senior citizens in the following communities: Lynden, Bellingham, Ferndale, Blaine, Everson, Nooksack, Sumas and Birch Bay.