Activity Ideas

Cognitive Wellness Activity Ideas for Senior Living Communities

May 8, 2023

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month! In this blog, we have activity ideas that are designed to boost cognitive wellness for residents in your senior living community. Cognitive wellness is one of the 7 Dimensions of Wellness that life enrichment professionals can target through their programming to keep older adults happy and healthy. 

While declines in mental agility come with age, there are ways to stimulate the mind and strengthen it for a better quality of life. A 2018 survey from the ICAA found a 30% reduction in mild cognitive impairment among those participating in stimulating activities — so having enough cognitive wellness programs on your calendar can make a big difference! Below are some of the ways that you can promote better brain health in your community.

  1. Memory Walk Fundraiser

Get your purple on and blow up those purple balloons! Encourage your staff, residents, and their families to sign up for a memory walk to honour those who have been diagnosed with dementia and raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease. You can ask family members to pledge money for each lap that their loved one completes and encourage them to create signs and make noise to cheer their loved ones on! You can utilize the outdoors or your community’s hallways and donate the proceeds to your local Alzheimer’s Society’s chapter.

Image via NZ Herald

  1. Brain Yoga

You probably already run a version of yoga in your community. But, have you ever tried brain yoga? It’s a great way to challenge your residents to move their body while stimulating their brain to help improve their motor abilities and hand-eye coordination. You can do it anywhere and no equipment is needed! Lead your residents through different movements with their bodies that make them think. Here’s an example of what you might like to try:

  • Make a fist with your right hand and raise your thumb, hold this position
  • Then, make a fist with your left hand and extend your pinkie finger
  • Now try alternating between each hand
Image via Fitisiri

  1. Brain Olympics

Even though it’s not an Olympic year, you can host your own “brain” olympics in your community! This could be a one day event or span a week or month. Host various cognitive brain games for a little friendly competition between your residents. Here are some ideas: 

  • Divide residents in two groups and give them the same puzzle to put together. Whoever gets the puzzle done first wins! 
  • Hand out brain teaser riddles and give residents points for each right answer. 
  • Host a trivia night and the team with the most correct answers wins! 
  • Play ‘Name that Tune’ and hand out points to residents for every successful answer. 

You can wrap up your events with an awards ceremony with podiums and medals!

Image via Silver Sneakers

  1. Brain Game Bingo

For Alzheimer's Month, download a blank, editable bingo sheet where you can add various cognitive activities for your residents to complete in the month. For example, you could add some of the following to your squares: read a book, attend brain yoga once a week, finish this week’s word search, etc. Every time your resident completes an activity, staff can cross it off on their card and prizes can be handed out for lines or full cards! A fun way to switch up that traditional bingo game your residents are used to!

Image via Now That’s Peachy

  1. Serving Tray Memory Game

A great activity for all residents, but particularly those with early cognitive impairments, is a serving tray game that works to enhance short-term memory! This can be done in small groups or one-on-one with a resident. All you have to do is choose a few random objects to lay out on the tray. Give the resident 30 seconds to peek at the tray and then cover it. Have them try to recall as much as they can.

Image via ESL Active

  1. Learn a dance routine

Dance has shown incredible cognitive benefits, and it’s also a great way to get your body moving! Finding a way for your residents to memorize a dance routine or create a music video would give them the mental benefits and will for sure be a laugh. It can also provide great content to share with families and on social media. Here’s some inspiration to get you started!

Image via Captel

  1. Host a Resident Art Show 

Along with dance, anything creative can help with brain health, including creative art. A great opportunity for residents with any cognitive impairment is to have them create paintings or drawings and hold an Art Show for families and the community in your residence. It’s a great way to get those creative and mental benefits as well as engage your community. You could even host this event in your community during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and feature artwork by residents who have an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Image via Senior Living Residences

Katie Stewart

Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.

Holly Mathias

Holly is a member of Welbi’s Marketing team! She has a background in communications and marketing, and is a compassionate individual who loves team work, story telling, and wellness.

Wendy Riopelle

Wendy is a student in the Honours BA in English program at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.

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