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What Hobbies Can Boost Your Elderly Loved One’s Brain Health?

It’s important for seniors to stay mentally engaged so their memory and other cognitive skills can be preserved. Luckily, there are many everyday activities that can help stimulate the mind. If your elderly loved one needs a regular boost in brain health, Summit home care experts have put together a list of hobbies he or she can try.

Making Music

The act of playing an instrument or singing stimulates creativity, increases focus, and evokes an emotional response from both performers and listeners. In particular, string and keyboard instruments build coordination and require multitasking. It is never too late to reap the benefits of music. A 1998 music therapy study led by Frederik Tims followed a group of over 130 retirees in 5 states. After just 10 weeks of group piano instruction, participants had reduced anxiety and depression and increased cognitive abilities. If playing an instrument is not possible for your loved one, listening to music can also be beneficial. Listening to favorite songs can help boost memory, engagement, and awareness in seniors with dementia, and creating or listening to music can help any senior have a more positive outlook on life.

Doing Crosswords, Sudoku, and Word Searches

These stimulating activities are often incorporated into “brain-training” programs, and studies show they are particularly effective at keeping minds sharp for much longer than was previously believed. A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found training seniors in processing speed, memory recall, and reasoning skills allowed them to reason and process things more clearly than a control group, and these benefits were retained even 10 years after the initial training. Crosswords and similar activities help with all these areas, encouraging seniors to keep learning and stretching their minds. 


Cultivating a garden is especially beneficial for seniors. Spending time outside helps reduce stress and increase optimism. Studies have found gardening alleviates the symptoms of depression by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. It can significantly reduce the risk of dementia, especially for seniors in their 60s and 70s. Designing a garden arrangement and selecting plants builds creativity, reasoning, processing, and decision-making skills.

Playing Bridge

Playing group card games like bridge provides a strong social support system for seniors and can give them a large circle of friends. Your loved one can participate in regular bridge competitions, which can give him or her a goal and sense of excitement. Bridge relies on memory, visualization, and sequential patterns. Many regular bridge players credit the game with helping them retain their short-term memory and avoid depression, and bridge players typically score high on cognitive tests.

If your loved one needs regular mental stimulation, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Included with any of our care plans, we offer a program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, which uses various activities to slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. In addition to Alzheimer’s and dementia care Summit seniors can rely on, we also offer comprehensive Parkinson’s and stroke care. Call a Care Manager today at 908.450.9400 to learn more and to schedule a free consultation.