Cognitive skills are something we will need our entire lives to function properly. According to an article from The Balance, Alison Doyle states, “Cognitive skills include the ability to learn, to process and apply knowledge, to analyze and reason, and to evaluate and decide.” Our cognitive skills enable us to perform everyday activities; for example, answering the phone. We understand someone is calling and we understand the telephone needs to be answered so we respond to those on the other end, by answering the phone call. Even though this may seem very simple tasks like this one are a utilization of the cognitive skills that we have learned in our early years of life. As we age, sometimes these can either be hard to recognize or sometimes our elders have diseases such as dementia specifically, Alzheimer’s can disable them from using their cognitive skills. Regardless, it is imperative we are keeping our brains as sharp as possible everyday and keeping our cognitive skills at tip-top shape. Below we have listed a few ways to ensure cognitive skills are maintained.

Everyday Activities

One of the the most stimulating brain activities to have everyday is conversation. Everyday conversation about current events can help to update our seniors on what is going on in the everyday world and involve them in a bigger picture. This can help them to think further and form their own opinions or debate and defend existing opinions. Conversation can be extremely brain stimulating because it encourages us to listen to what other are saying, process what they believe, and respond based on our own opinions. Even having a phone conversation be helpful. We should be speaking to our seniors everyday if possible; especially if they are living on their own.

Crafts and Hobbies

Finding something that helps our elders feel positive and gain enjoyment but yet challenge their brain abilities can be rewarding. Crafting or finding hobbies that challenge the brain can be a fun alternative for our elders and a great way for them to exercise their brains. Knitting, drawing, painting, or scrapbooking are a few different types of crafts seniors can take up to help their cognitive skills. These types of activities attempt to have our elderly loved ones think and plan ahead for what they are going to either knit, paint, or place in scrapbook. This keeps them engaged in an activity rather than having mindless thinking, it gives them a goal to work toward which can be very stimulating for the brain.     

Games and Puzzles

Games and puzzles are definitely the best way for seniors to improve or strengthen their cognitive skills. There are specific games and puzzles that are designed to challenged the brain and make us think much further to find out the answer. Dominoes, chess, checkers, certain card games, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, sudoku are all great examples of games and puzzles which can challenge us cognitively. These are only a few of the many games and puzzles that can used to help sharpen or work cognitive skills. Games and puzzles are probably one of the most fun ways to get our seniors thinking at their full potential.

Cognitive skills enables us to live normal lives well into our old age. Keeping these skills sharp can be imperative during old age. However, there are small everyday opportunities that can keep us thinking outside of the box and keep our brains sharper than ever.



“Assessing Cognitive Impairment in Older Patients.” National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nia.nih.gov/health/assessing-cognitive-impairment-older-patients.

Doyle, Alison. “Cognitive Skills List and Examples.” The Balance, www.thebalance.com/cognitive-skills-definition-and-examples-2063736.

Michelon, Dr. Pascale. “What Are Cognitive Abilities and Skills, and How to Boost Them?” SharpBrains, 4 Jan. 2016, sharpbrains.com/blog/2006/12/18/what-are-cognitive-abilities/.


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