Our bodies rely on exercise to stay fit and strong and that does not change when we get older. So, if we do not use our bodies, we may lose the ability to physically function the way that we want to. It is the same for our minds. The elderly population need to stimulate their brains to ensure they remain sharp minded and keep their cognitive skills. There are many ways to keep the mind active as we get older, and they can often be fun! 
At a younger age we stimulate our brains with everyday life, caring for children, working, and maintaining relationships. Once someone retires a lot of these regular stimulants disappear. They do not get the stimulation of work; often their children have gone on to have families of their own; sometimes they are widowed. Without this mental stimulation, it is possible that there will be a decline in awareness, attention span, perception, memory, and reasoning. 
A simple conversation and/or a reminiscence can have a massive impact on the cognitive ability of an elderly person. However, if a more structured approach to mental health of the elderly is required then the following could go a long way to helping an elderly person with their mental abilities. 
Recall testing – make a list of daily tasks, such as washing and dressing, going for a stroll, reading a book, playing a board game, having a conversation. Then at the end of the day try to recall which of the activities were achieved and therefore remembered. 
Listening to music lyrics – music often produces positive feelings and/or memories. Also, listening very closely to the lyrics of a song stimulates the brain anyway. 
Basic mathematical skills – try to complete simple maths tasks in your head or more complex maths on paper. Calculating the number of keys on a piano, or the number of meals required in a care home is something that an individual can do to assist with brain stimulation. 
Word picture visualisations – Our imaginations are powerful instruments, so if we keep our imaginations active cognitive skills remain strong too. In this simple task, look at an object decide what it is called and spell it out in your head. It is a very simple technique but works brilliantly at keeping mental sharpness. 
Puzzles and board games – these are obviously good stimulants and if an elderly person can find something that works for them, then mental agility will certainly be improved. Many elderly people choose to take up Scrabble for instance as it stimulates their brains and tackles spelling, arithmetic, and memory all in one! 
Mental stimulation is so very important and should not be neglected in the care home setting. Check out coursedetective.co.uk to see what training is available to care home workers to help enhance mental stimulation techniques 
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