Train Your Brain: 6 Mindful Activities for Seniors

Staying In The Game

As we age, it’s crucial to keep our minds stimulated and in proper working order. And one of the absolute best ways to train your brain is to incorporate a few mindful activities into our everyday lifestyle.

If you’re unfamiliar with the word mindfulness and don’t quite grasp what it means, here’s a breakdown: Mindfulness is a primary mental state where one focuses on being present and “in the moment.”

The good news is that you can be mindful and in the moment through a variety of activities! Whether you find a new creative outlet or begin meditation, there are countless ways you can train your brain to be more focused.

To train and engage your brain, here are six mindful activities for seniors to keep themselves at the top of their game.
Start Meditation
According to neuropsychologist Jean Lengenfelder, meditation can enhance short-term and long-term memory. And while meditation can indeed center and ground anyone who practices, it has incredible benefits for older adults, too.

Meditation has been proven to preserve cognitive function in older folks and seniors who are beginning to struggle with memory and cognition. According to a 2014 review of a dozen studies involving seniors and older adults, meditation has also been linked with positive effects on executive function, processing speed and general cognition. It even staves off Alzheimer’s and reduces loneliness.

And meditation can be practiced just about anywhere. In fact, it’s perfect for older adults and seniors with mobility issues. It’s also quite easy to follow along with guided instructors through YouTube or even apps on your phone.

The main thing to remember about meditation is that your mind will always wander. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s the point. The goal of meditation is to simply check in on yourself, by whatever technique you prefer.

Some of these meditation techniques include a body scan, where you mentally run through your body in search of tension and then release your tight muscles. Another meditation technique that’s perfect for novice meditators is breath awareness, where you practice and focus on slow and deep breathing, which improves concentration and reduces anxiety.

Tend a Garden
Gardens offer a wonderful mindful activity for seniors. It brings a certain level of satisfaction by tending to crops and growing produce, especially those you can enjoy with dinner later. Plus, gardening not only relieves stress, but also improves cognitive abilities and provides mild, low-impact exercise.

Even if it’s not a personal garden in your own backyard or a container garden on a porch, you can seek out community gardens. Getting involved with your local community is also a great way to be involved and sociable. This also invites you to engage with fellow neighbors and meet new people for more social interactions, too.

Become a Volunteer
Especially for seniors who are officially retired, volunteering is a fantastic way to train your brain and stay active. You can volunteer as a guide showing guests around art and history museums, or you can volunteer as an usher, checking tickets and showing people to their seats at theater and concert venues.

Plus, you’ll be able to see new exhibits or watch the shows for free! You’ll also get to engage with interesting people and hear new music, which stimulates your brain.

Pick Up a Creative Activity
While there are several ways seniors can get creative, art offers a much more relaxing mindfulness because it is an activity that seniors can do in the comfort of their own home.

Art activities are practically endless! From classic knitting to sculpting pottery to newfangled diamond painting, seniors can find anything that suits their personality and capabilities. In fact, like puzzles and coloring books, diamond art is a fantastic activity to train the brain. It can even be considered a form of mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT).

Having a creative outlet not only offers stress relief and self-expression, but it also fine-tunes cognitive function and hand-eye coordination. It makes you more agile and skillful at everyday tasks. Plus, creative outlets improve concentration and focusing abilities.

Engage with Music
Engaging with music or attending concerts is another amazing mindful activity. As previously mentioned, you can volunteer at music venues or, alternatively, you can simply grab a pair of headphones and tune in to your favorite classical symphonies. You can also immerse yourself in a singing group or local choir to train your brain to read sheet music.

Taking dance lessons is another way to engage with music, while also getting some low-impact exercises. Sign up alone or with a friend and learn line-dancing or even Zumba.

Besides learning a few sweet dance moves, you can also try to learn a new instrument. Some fun and easy instruments are ukuleles, harmonicas and keyboards, which you can learn by watching online instructional videos on YouTube.

Read and Write
Reading and writing both offer mindful activities that seniors can enjoy. They’re also perfect for seniors with limited mobility or who are uninterested in physical activities. Join a book club to discuss story themes and topics with other members, making friends as well.

For those who prefer a more creative outlet, writing is also an excellent activity to practice mindfulness. It can simply be a daily journal where you keep thoughts organized, jot down goals or reflect on events. Besides writing in a more personal journal, you can also try creative writing, exploring different genres, such as cozy mysteries. The point of writing is to improve mental agility and boost your memory.

Whatever mindful activity or practice you choose, make sure it’s one you enjoy. That way, you’ll be excited to return to it again and again to appreciate being in the moment. Set a schedule and set a daily or weekly reminder to ensure to train your brain to stay focused, alert and in tune with yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally. And remember to stay young at heart!

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