Memory Exercises for Seniors that Work

Retaining mental alertness, acuity, and memory-recall functions can become an increasingly challenging aspect as we age. This is a natural process which may or may not have anything to do with other age-related neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Chronic UTI, Pick’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease. However, seniors become increasingly susceptible to neurodegenerative conditions which often makes things much worse than normal.

Research over the decades has proven that it is possible for seniors to delay the onset of both natural cognitive decline and neurovegetative diseases through cognitive exercises. In fact, studies also show that even patients already suffering from early symptoms of dementia can slow down the disease’s progress with similar exercise routines. As to what these exercises are, let’s take a closer look next.

Social Engagement

Physical exercise is just as important for retaining mental faculties as mental exercise, and social engagement is the best type of activity to see both those needs fulfilled simultaneously. On looking at memory care programs in place at the Brandywine Summit Senior Living Community, we can see that their process of actively engaging seniors in internal events and activities has produced impressive results.

With help from loving family members and carefully trained staff, assisted-living facilities have several opportunities to help their residents maintain cognitive clarity for a much longer period of time. In fact, the exercises we are going to mention next should be part of any decent senior living facility as well.

Shape Recognition

Shape recognition games are highly effective for stimulating our brain’s occipital and temporal lobes. These two parts are mostly responsible for forming, retaining, visualizing, recognizing, and recalling information stored as STM and LTM. More popularly known as Shapes & Silhouettes, the exercise is conducted in the following game form:

  • The individual is shown silhouetted shapes of objects, people, animals, birds, insects, etc.
  • They are first asked to recognize the subject.
  • If the individual is successful in recognizing the subject, then they are asked more specific questions.
  • The secondary questions will differ vastly, but usually include common follow-up questions like what the subject is doing, what it is related to, etc.
  • The silhouetted shapes will become progressively difficult to decipher and detail.

Picture Recall

There are several real life and digital versions of the memory-recall game available these days, but the original exercise is conducted as follows:

  • The individual is shown or handed a photograph with instructions to carefully observe it.
  • After a certain time, which may or may not be fixed, the photograph is taken back from the individual.
  • The photograph will then be flipped and placed facedown to reveal several prewritten questions on its back.
  • Next, a separate questionnaire may be presented to the individual.
  • All questions will ask the individual to answer questions related to specific details about the photograph shown.

An easier version of this same game may contain statements about the photograph which the individual only has to mark as being true or false.

Tests show that a large majority of seniors gradually improve in all forms of cognitive exercises and games with practice. As a direct result of that improvement, their mental acuity and memory-recall functions may also recuperate to a significant degree.