6 Mind-Stimulating Activities for Older Adults


Aging can cause older adults to have declining mental faculties. For example, it can be common for them to take a while before they recall a name. However, when these instances already affect one’s daily activities of living (ADLs), it may indicate an underlying condition.

That’s why older adults must engage in activities to keep their minds active.

Here are six mind-stimulating activities for your elderly loved one.

Getting Quality Sleep

One may argue that sleep isn’t an activity. However, it’s among the most important things that most older people miss out on. Getting enough sleep isn’t enough – it must be good quality sleep. Sleep is critical for consolidating memory, which allows individuals to process new information. Not getting enough sleep can affect one’s ability to focus and learn new things.

The Canadian 24-hour Movement Guideline advises older adults to have at least seven to eight hours of good, restful sleep.

Eating Healthy Foods

Eating healthy food has benefits for the body and mind. Eating a well-balanced meal keeps the body absorbing nutrients critical for brain health. Nutrients like vitamin B, omega-3 fatty acids, and choline improve cognitive function. For example, choline found in avocados stimulates the release of acetylcholine critical for lowering the risk of dementia.

Here are other foods that can improve brain health:

  • Seafood (cold-water fatty fish, salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
  • Seeds and nuts (chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseed)
  • Plant oils (flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil)
  • Berries ( blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries)
  • Tea and coffee


Gardening is a mind-stimulating activity ideal for older adults. It helps them stay active and increase physical strength. In addition, this activity encourages you to be up and moving, kicking the habit of a sedentary lifestyle. Since it can be outdoors, it’s also an excellent opportunity to meet with neighbors while getting fresh air.

Moreover, gardening gives a sense of purpose. Since they can cultivate their own food, the elderly can enjoy the fruits of their labor. They’ll have access to healthy fruits and vegetables if they engage in organic gardening.

An analysis found that activating the sense of touch and smell during therapeutic gardening can improve the process of learning.

Engaging in Exercise

An excellent way to optimize the brain is by doing exercises. Here are popular and effective exercises:

  • Aerobic
  • Resistance training
  • Mind-body exercises (Yoga Tai Chi, and Pilates)

Combining these exercises is ideal so the body can adjust accordingly. A study found that aerobic exercise combined with a dual-task walking test improved the cognitive skills of older adults.

Older adults may find it more challenging to maintain an exercise routine. Older adults, especially those with medical conditions, should first get a medical clearance before getting into an exercise routine.

Reading and Writing

While reading and writing may not be a physically-straining, it does help to get the mind to work. Most elderly prefer these activities because it’s something they can do anytime and anywhere. In addition, several benefits come with reading and writing. Among them are improved memory, vocabulary, and focus.

People with poor reading and writing abilities are at a higher risk of developing dementia and other cognitive diseases. Research about the association between illiteracy and dementia showed that illiterate participants were thrice as likely to have dementia.

Reading books is a great way to stimulate imagination, creativity, and memory. While writing helps with the expression of feelings and thoughts.

Solving Puzzles and Board Games

Puzzles and board games keep brains active. Trying to solve puzzles can help them strategize. On top of it, they also improve hand-eye coordination. Board games allow players to improve their brain function. One study found that board games with moving pieces are a great preventive measure for dementia.

Plenty of research on puzzles and board games highlights how they help people with various forms of cognitive impairment. They can improve problem-solving abilities, reduce anxiety, encourage socialization, and boost mood.

Keep Your Mind and Body Active

Lack of mental stimulation is common for older adults. They mostly stay at home and rarely interact with family members and friends. Isolation can lead to boredom, depression, and cognitive decline. It’s highly encouraged to keep the brain working to reduce the risk of memory loss.

Experiencing brain fog can be normal. It can be due to stress, fatigue, and lack of sleep. However, if forgetfulness and loss of focus become persistent, it may be time to seek help.

For older adults, constant stimulation is necessary. Thankfully, there are communities where they can live independently. These senior living communities have programs that allow them to engage in these mind-stimulating activities.

Aging doesn’t always have to be about decline. It’s about being able to live your life on your terms and lifestyle. For some elderly, an active and engaged lifestyle keeps them feeling young and vibrant.