Exercises to Enhance Mental Agility in the Elderly

We are living longer and longer, so it is essential to develop techniques and skills that allow us to improve our quality of life in old age. Enhancing our mental agility is one of those resources that will help us age better.
Currently, almost 19% of the Spanish population is over 65 years old and 6% are octogenarians. According to United Nations data, Spain is one of the oldest countries in the world and it is estimated that in 2050 35% of the population will be over 65 years of age.
Therefore, every day it is more necessary to develop resources and exercise our skills and abilities that avoid developing pathologies associated with age and old age. If we are living longer and longer, then we must prepare to be long-lived !

How to improve our mental performance?

Although it is incredible, we begin to age from the age of 20 . The older we get, the more difficult it is for us to assimilate and process information, as brain functions progressively decline . However, what we lose in processing speed, we gain in knowledge and experience , so it takes a while to notice the decline.
It is essential to point out that, cost more or less, we never lose the ability to learn , so it is important to continue stimulating our brain and work on mental agility. To train mental agility, various cognitive abilities are usually worked on:

  • Memory .
  • Attention.
  • Perception.
  • Language.
  • Motor skills
  • Reasoning.
  • Problem resolution.
  • Planning skills
  • Mental flexibility.
  • Information processing speed.

Physical exercise has also been shown to improve mental capacity by attenuating cognitive decline, as it reduces neuronal degeneration and can even delay degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Therefore, training the body is also training the mind.

Workshops and exercises to strengthen the brain

Multiple studies show that exercising the brain slows the decline of aging. A good way to exercise is to introduce novelty and variety into your day to day . The more the mind is used for different purposes, the more the intellectual capacity will be preserved. Hence the wide variety of areas covered by programs and workshops aimed at promoting mental agility in older people :

  • Reading workshops and literary discussion.
  • Cinema forum.
  • Play an instrument .
  • Computer .
  • Meditation , breathing or yoga.
  • Video games for adults.
  • Theater .
  • Music therapy .
  • Art and creativity such as intura, photography, etc.
  • Board and logic games such as scrabble, petanque, cards, dominoes, chess, sudokus, etc.
  • Physical exercise : Nordic walking, tai-chi, qi-gong …
  • Fine motor skills through crafts, gardening, sewing, cooking, etc.
  • Technological advances are also making things easier. There are mobile applications (for both Android and iOS) to train cognitive abilities, for example: CogniFit, Fit Brains Trainer, NeuroNation, Eidetic, etc.

Apart from everything related to cognitive skills, there are also other types of workshops related to other skills :

  • Behavioral : training workshops on routines and activities of daily life, healthy habits and lifestyles.
  • Emotional : workshops for stress management, positive thinking, adaptation to life changes (retirement, grief, change of address …) and adaptation to relational changes (the role of grandparent, changes in sexual relationships, health problems, loneliness … ), etc.
  • Interpersonal : workshops for the training of social skills (assertiveness, conversational skills, managing problems with family or friends …).

Apart from the interventions carried out properly with the elderly, it is worthwhile whenever possible to psychologically attend to the family . Some topics to be discussed may be: difficult situations related to caring for the elderly or teaching skills for care habits or even self-care.
What you should know

    • Cost more or less, we never lose the ability to learn, so it is important to continue to stimulate mental activity.
    • Physical exercise improves mental capacity by attenuating cognitive deterioration, since it reduces neuronal degeneration and can even delay degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
    • A good way to exercise is to introduce novelty and variety into your day to day. The more the mind is used for different purposes, the more the intellectual capacity will be preserved.

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