Memory Exercises for Senior Citizens

Misplace your keys, or forget to shut the refrigerator door? We all forget things from time to time. If you worry about becoming increasingly forgetful as you age, you aren’t alone. Luckily, there are resources out there to educate yourself about aging and cognitive health, and tips to keep your brain healthy and active.   The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recognizes 5  steps to help you maintain cognitive health, and those are:

1. Take care of your health

The NIA recommends getting regular health screenings and consulting with your doctor about the medicines you’re taking that may affect your memory. In addition, sufficient sleep (7-8 hours per night), limited alcohol use, and not smoking also contribute to better physical health.

2. Eat healthy foods

Eating a well-balanced diet is a good approach to improving or maintaining brain health. Seek out foods that are high in antioxidants (ex: blueberries), and low in fat and cholesterol. Load up on those lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains!

3. Be physically active

It isn’t enough just to eat well. A regular exercise routine improves your strength, increases your energy, helps prevent heart disease, and improves vascular health, which protects brain tissue. The NIA’s physical activity campaign for older adults, Go4Life, is a great place to start to help you fit exercise into your daily life.

4. Keep your mind active

Your mind needs a workout, too! You can exercise your brain in so many ways, such as:
  • puzzles (crossword or Sudoku are great for brain health)
  • reading
  • learning a new skill (take a cooking class, start a new craft, learn to play an instrument, etc!)
  • Lumosity (or another online program that offers games to exercise the mind)
  • games (memory, rummy, chess, and board games all help improve short-term memory)

5. Stay connected

Participating in social activities is good for your health and well-being. Connecting with other people not only keeps you from feeling isolated, but it can also keep your brain active. There are ample opportunities in your neighborhood to connect with others, or join interesting programs and fun activities. To start, check out your local senior center. Right here in Dubuque, Iowa, The Hills & Dales Senior/Lifetime Center offers a variety of activities, social events, and health/wellness programs. Some examples include wood carving, card clubs, yoga, sewing, Swedish weaving, Wii bowling, and more. Also, they serve a lunch daily Monday-Friday for just $4. You can find activities weekly in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald or a calendar of events for the month on their website.   Want to know more about cognitive health, and what is normal and what isn’t when it comes to memory and forgetfulness? This infographic by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) is a great place to start. And for more information, read their article which goes into more detail.