7 Attention Activities For Older Adults: Improve Your Attention Span and Focus

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

As adults reach their golden years, it is important for them to have activities that can stimulate the mind. Many games and activities that are done with others can help keep your mind attentive and more functional. Here are several attention-improving activities for older adults who want to improve their focus.

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Depending upon their mental acuity, some of the games can be quite complex, whereas others are going to be more simplistic in nature. The key is to get them thinking, and to play these games on a regular basis, to prevent potential diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and many others from affecting your mind.

Word Games

One of the easiest ways to stimulate cognitive activity with any adults is a word game. Word games engage your mind, causing you to use that stored up knowledge you have in your brain. To access this knowledge, your brain will start firing neurons that have likely not been active for years.

Not all of us think about the words that we use. We become accustomed to habitual conversations without putting too much thought to new words, phrases, or ways of stating information. But, word games can successfully cause older adults to start thinking about new concepts and words for these games very easily.

Examples of good word games for older adults: Scrabble, Upwords, Boggle

Puzzles

Although not directly related to using words or language, puzzles use that part of the mind that relates to patterns. Puzzles are nothing more than a pattern recognition exercise, one that can prove to be very complex.

The smaller the pieces, the more difficult it will be to complete these exercises. You must look at the shape of the puzzle piece, the colors that are on it, and the patterns that you can see and compare those to the picture on the box. The faster you become, the better your minds will be.

For seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s store has a line of puzzles that are designed specifically for older adults with dementia and motor control issues.

Of course, word puzzles can combine the benefits of both word games and standard puzzles. If you like word puzzles, check out these puzzle book subscriptions and get them delivered to your home on a regular basis.

senior woman working a puzzle at a recreation center
Puzzles can help with mental stimulation and fine motor skills.

Card Games

There are so many card games in the world today that can be played by virtually any age group. Some of the most popular include games like Go Fish, Solitaire, and even card games with an element of chance. Even simple card games for seniors like these can be mentally stimulating and help with attention.

In order to improve cognitive function, card games can serve as one of the best ways to accomplish this task. Memory retention, logical pattern solving, and many other aspects of card games can stimulate various parts of the brain. Playing regularly, or even including games of chance in large groups, can become exciting which is also helpful for mental stimulation.

RELATED: Activities to Keep Seniors Mentally Sharp

Checkers And Chess

Checkers is a very popular game that is also one of the easiest board games in the world. It consists of two players, each of which is trying to capture as many pieces as possible. These are often divided up on a checkerboard game table, complete with black-and-white pieces, all of which are positioned so that each player can leap over and capture the other person’s pieces on the board.

Chess is another game that is played on a very similar board if not identical. The most obvious differences the types of pieces that you are using. Several different types including the Queen, King, Rook, and Pawns are all used in strategic ways in order to defeat the other player.

For those that already have an understanding of these games, you can invoke memories of strategies they already know. This is a great way to stimulate cognitive response and evoke memories that can assist them in playing and winning against other players.

If you’d like to try either of these games, the best way is to get a 3 in 1 game set that includes the game board plus pieces for both games (plus backgammon).

Reading

Reading is something that most people avoid. That is why the audiobook industry has become so popular. Although audiobooks and audiobook players have been around for decades, they are now much more accessible and affordable. However, it is important to read books as well.

Reading allows the brain to perform several different functions. First of all, you are using your ability to read words and form concepts. As you are reading, especially if you are proficient at it, you are literally seeing what is enfolding in the book itself.

This combination of the mind’s eye, imagination, and cognitive abilities is one of the best ways to stimulate the mind. If they have not read a book in quite some time, choose something that would be of interest to them, that is preferably at their reading level.

RELATED: Self-Esteem Activities for Older Adults

Physical Activities

There are many different physical activities that can also stimulate the attention of the elderly. You can play games in groups or simply play games with an older person independently. This can be anything from games that require hand eye coordination or develop creativity. Even video games can suffice for this purpose.

Many elderly people won’t choose digitally-based activities. Instead, they may want to take up macramé, sewing, knitting, and other hands-on activities. If you are able to spend time with them, and learn how to do these activities yourself, this can help them in feeling happier.

They could see an increase in their cognitive abilities simply because they feel happy and that they belong.

Wrapping Up

It is so important for older adults to participate in activities that involve improving their attention span. It is very common for adults to develop short-term memory loss, and this can be averted by simply engaging their minds with different activities that will stimulate mental cognition.

Whether you are playing games, doing physical activities, or simply having conversations with them regularly, it’s going to be very helpful in stimulating their mind. By doing this regularly, they can look forward to your interaction with them, and this can mean the difference between many years of high cognitive ability or potentially developing diseases related to the mind.

It is through your efforts that you can improve in older person’s attention span by participating in one of these many ways.

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