As people get older, they tend to develop deteriorating memories, talk more slowly and have trouble gathering their thoughts. This is because the brain, like any other body part, will atrophy without proper exercise. Fortunately, there are many games and exercises that the elderly can get involved in to improve their mental prowess.
Once used to help teach young boys battle strategy, chess is a game of thought, planning and mental cunning. Good chess players must be able not only to visualise where all the pieces on the board might move next, they must also be able to see a few moves ahead to beat their opponents. This means that the elderly will have to focus and remember moves and playing patterns, sharpening their mental skills. Chess also requires little physical movement for those with limited mobility.
Like chess, mah jong is a game of strategy, but with a twist. Even if someone has played mah jong for years, there are so many ways to set up the pieces that a person could play a new kind of mah jong, either alone or with other players, each day for years. The option of setting up the board in different ways, along with solitaire and opponent play, offers a wide range of mental stimulation. In some versions of the game, you must also remember what the tiles mean, adding another type of focus.
Most mah jong tiles look the same, but come in a variety of sizes for different levels of dexterity.
Brain Teasers and Riddles
Brain teasers are a great solo activity for seniors who prefer to relax alone. These puzzles encourage the player to think outside the box of normalcy and use different parts of his brain. This brings stimulation and improves the rest of the brain as well, just as when you walk and use all of your muscles to a certain extent.
Riddles are a good way to stimulate the mind while doing other things. Two people can shoot them back and forth at each other while knitting, playing dominoes or going for a walk. Riddles stimulate your brain the same way brain teasers do, and multitasking by doing something with your hands while you think works your brain even more.