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Activities for the Mind

Playing games is one way for your aging parent to be mentally active.

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Simple and fun activities that can help seniors maintain an active mind.

Below are a few ideas for an active mind.

On Call

Many older adults have a telephone that is programmed with the numbers of family and friends. So all they have to do is hit a speed dial button to make that important connection. A senior can attempt to recall all of the numbers in the telephone directory and make a list.

A senior may want to think of a different telephone number each day this week that she might need and memorize that number. At the end of the week, review all the new numbers.

Incorporate this new skill by asking your loved ones to try to remember the ingredients and directions of a favorite recipe. (Your loved one might want to double check the cookbook to see how well she did.) Or think about a hobby he or she hasn't done for a long time. Suggest they remember the steps and write them down.

Download a PDF of this activity (PDF 160 kB)

Change Direction

If a senior has a regular route through the grocery store or to the mailbox, she may want to try a different route. Research has revealed that such a technique exercises the brain.

Or, if an older adult can't leave the house, help your senior break a routine. Drink tea in the afternoon instead of coffee in the morning. If he reads the newspaper in the morning and watches television in the afternoon, suggest that he try switching that around. Make a note of what she likes and doesn't like about the new order.

While she is going about her day, ask your mom to use her opposite hand to open doors and brush her teeth. Or suggest to dad he wear his watch on the opposite hand. These activities will help their brains re-think daily tasks.

Download a PDF of this activity (PDF, 139 KB)

A Puzzle A Day

Doing puzzles is a great way to help a senior keep his mind active. Try this one by writing out the correct words on a separate sheet of paper.

Sea Animals
Unscramble the words. Created with the help of Wordsheets.

  • MCLA
  • RCAB

You can find the answers and more sample puzzles at

Download a PDF of this activity (PDF, 180 KB)

Crazy 8s

Cards are a great form of socialization that may help improve a senior's overall sense of well-being. How about a game of "Crazy 8s?"

  1. The basic game of Crazy 8s uses a standard 52-card pack.
  2. The dealer deals (singly) five cards to each player (seven each if there are only two players).
  3. The un-dealt stack is placed face down on the table, and the top card of the stack is turned face up and placed beside the stack to start the discard pile.
  4. Starting with the player to dealer's left, and continuing clockwise, each player in turn must either play a legal card face up on top of the discard pile, or draw a card from the un-dealt stack.
  5. If the top card of the discard pile is not an eight, play any card that matches the rank or suit of the previous card. (For example if the top card was the king of hearts you could play any king or any heart.)
  6. An eight may be played on any card, and the player of the eight must nominate a suit, which must be played next.
  7. If an eight is on top of the pile, you may play any card of the suit nominated by the person who played the eight.

The first player who gets rid of all their cards wins, and the other players score penalty points according to the cards they have left in their hands. Remember that meaningful conversation while playing can boost a senior's outlook as well.

Download a PDF of this activity (PDF, 120 KB)

Memory Lane

Remembering and memorizing song lyrics is a great way to keep the mind active. How about "Moon River," the hit made popular in the 1960s by legendary crooner Andy Williams? If you don't know the tune, Google it, or let your senior teach you how it goes.

Here are a few others from the 1940s, ‘50s and early ‘60s that your loved ones might remember:

  • "Chances Are" (Johnny Mathis)
  • "Blueberry Hill" (Fats Domino)
  • "When You Wish Upon a Star" (Cliff Edwards)
  • "You Send Me" (Sam Cooke)
  • "Wake Up Little Susie" (The Everly Brothers)
  • "Sentimental Journey" (Doris Day)
  • "Fly Me to the Moon" (Frank Sinatra)

Ask a senior to remember and sing other songs as he or she is going about the day.

Download a PDF of this activity (PDF, 150 KB)

Activity Calendar and Booklet

Track activity progress with the printable calendar and activities booklet.

View the Calendar and Activities Booklet.

Need ideas for activities and other tools? Visit our Resources page.

The Home Instead Senior Care network strives to educate and inform seniors and their families on a wide variety of topics to assist in improving the quality of life for seniors. The instruction and information presented on this Web site and in the downloadable activity pages is in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation, and neither Home Instead, Inc. nor the Home Instead Senior Care network warrant or guarantee that participating in the recommended activities will increase a senior's physical activity and/or achieve desired results. Participation in any exercise program is not without its risks and may result in injury. To reduce the risk of injury, seniors should consult their doctor before beginning any exercise regimen. Home Instead, Inc. and the locally owned Home Instead Senior Care businesses expressly disclaim any liability from and in connection with participation in the activities described herein and in the activity downloads.

Last revised: March 3, 2011

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  1. March 25, 2011 at 11:27 am | Posted by JEN



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