19 Cognitive Stimulation Activities For Older Adults

The stimulation activities  cognitive for seniors  are crucial to promote health, general welfare and to improve memory , attention and other executive functions. 

Prevention takes on special relevance, and these exercises are recommended for any of us with the aim of slowing down aging. In fact, it is especially recommended that they begin between the ages of 55 and 60, although younger people can also practice them.

active aging

Next, I am going to list a series of activities that older people can do to work on cognitive stimulation. They can be done autonomously at home, although some older people may need certain help because they cannot do it independently.

In order to be able to carry out full cognitive stimulation, it is important to go to the appropriate professional and this, after an assessment, will lay down an action plan to improve the skills in which more work is needed.

Above all, the intervention of the professional is particularly relevant in cases in which the person suffers from some type of dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.

List of cognitive stimulation activities for seniors

1- Comprehensive reading

It is not just reading a period or a magazine, it is processing the information in the proper way. When you finish reading a text, you can ask a series of questions: what ?, who ?, how ?, when ?, and why ?.

They can be answered in writing or by telling someone. In this way, if the text has been read carefully, it will have been understood and the person will be able to answer the questions.

2- Mathematical exercises

We can start from a basic level, performing addition and subtraction or, a higher level in which we make equations in which different mechanisms intervene to solve the unknown. In this way, we will work our attention and, also, concentration.

3- Album of life

In order to work on remote memory, a very nice activity is to rescue old photos and documents and put them in order. We can create a personal album with stories and our personal photos.

4- Coloring

The beneficial effects of this activity are multiple. The ideal is to adapt the figure and not use images that seem childish.

By coloring, fine motor skills are worked on and, at the end, they will feel proud after the work done. Coloring is closely related to art therapy and doing this type of work has multiple benefits because it helps us relax.

5- Create stories

This resource is widely used, especially in groups. The person leading the group will introduce a list of words that apparently do not make sense to each other.

Then, after checking that everyone knows its meaning, the first one will make up a phrase with a word and the person who follows will have to start with the initial phrase and add a new one with another word.

So until everyone has participated. It is a good exercise to work on short-term memory and, also, resources related to imagination.

6- Hobbies

We can find them in any newspaper or magazine and they also sell them in whole books. They can be word searches, crosswords, Sudoku puzzles or exercises to find the differences between two images.

It took us little time to do them, but we can get into the habit of doing this type of exercise for its benefits. With each of them we will work on a specific aspect but it is very important to be constant.

7- Do the housework

For people who suffer from a certain cognitive impairment, these types of tasks are especially relevant because apart from requiring their attention and concentration and launching executive functions, they will make them feel useful and therefore will increase their self-esteem.

They can be peeling fruits or potatoes, splitting some foods, setting the table, folding clothes, etc. It is important that the activities that involve the use of certain instruments that can hurt them (knives, scissors, etc.) or the use of instruments that burn (the glass-ceramic, the oven) are carried out under the supervision of another person.

8- Complete maps

It is very important that the activities we do have some kind of impact on our daily lives. How many times have we listened to the news and they have told us about a country or city that we have not been able to locate geographically?

Studying the maps of the continents, we will learn culture and, at the same time, we will work our memory and attention. Then, to check what we have learned, we can complete a silent map.

9- board games

Playing Parcheesi, dominoes, chess, cards or checkers, in addition to experiencing the sensation of playing with more people and the friendship bonds that may arise between them, we are training our cognitive abilities such as short-term memory and attention.

Also, there are activities that can be done individually such as puzzles and playing solitaire with cards.

10- Sewing

A manipulative activity that tends to like a lot, especially to people who have learned to sew in their youth.

You can start with very simple jobs in which the stitch is very easy and go up the level with the crochet or cross stitch and even the elaboration of garments. Again, I emphasize the importance of the person who requires it, be accompanied by someone who supervises the work in order not to injure themselves.

11- Bingo

Bingo is a simple but entertaining activity, played in a group. It is common among older adults who are in retirement homes, however we can play it anywhere.

Playing bingo is beneficial to health, as it stimulates the senses of hearing, sight and touch. In addition, this activity will allow you to socialize and make new friends. It is important not to take it to the extreme to avoid gambling addiction; one way is not to gamble real money.

12- Physical exercises

Performing physical exercises such as aerobics improve cognitive function in older adults. These can be practiced in groups and with music, to encourage and make the sessions more joyful.

Depending on the capabilities of the person, exercise can vary in intensity and time. The practice of physical activities improves memory and executive function.

13- Riddles

Riddles or word games are a challenge for our brain; stimulate and improve cognitive functions. You can play guessing games, where in addition to exercising the mind, it will also be fun.

Family or friends can get together to do this type of activity. In each meeting the topic of the riddles can vary; for example, animals, characters or objects.

14- Musical activities

Creating music or learning to play an instrument significantly improves memory. For example, it can be the guitar, flute or piano, everything will depend on the taste of the person.

You can also take singing lessons or join improv music groups and perform to family or the community.

15- Challenges in a garden

The objective of this activity is for the elderly to enjoy the outdoors while taking on the challenge of identifying different species of plants or flowers that a botanical garden has.

Doing this activity with family members will help the older adult improve their memory while spending quality time with their loved ones.

16- Tray set

The challenge consists of taking different objects, placing them on a tray, asking the people present to observe them and to memorize them. It is then covered with a cloth and now everyone is asked to remember the elements.

Whoever remembers the most objects is the winner. This game improves short-term memory, which is one of the most affected by age.

17- Volunteering

Volunteering is not reserved for young people; a person’s age or capabilities is not a limitation for volunteering. Being a volunteer allows us to contribute a grain of sand to society but it also has an impact on our lives.

Among the activities that can be done are: caring for animals, collecting food and medicine, teaching low-income people and cleaning the community’s green areas.

18- Learn a new language

It is never too late to learn a new language, the person can take classes in academies, with audiobooks or take classes online. The learning process keeps our brains active and increases cognitive functions.

19- Videogames

Although it may seem strange, older adults also have the ability to play video games, it just takes a little patience for them to learn.

Themes of interest

Games to exercise the mind .

Games to exercise memory .


  1. Fernández Ballesteros, R. (2.009) Psychology of old age. An applied psychogerontology. Editorial Pyramid.
  2. National Institute of Statistics (INE). Natural Movement of the Population (Births, Deaths and Marriages). Basic Demographic Indicators. Year 2.015. Provisional data.
  3. European Year of Active Aging and Intergenerational Solidarity 2.012. European Union.

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