For Seniors, a Little Cognitive Stimulation Goes a Long Way

dstricoff June 11th, 2012, 9:54 AM
Debbie Stricoff, Dir., Adult Day Care Services
Author Profile

handsIt constantly amazes me how a little cognitive stimulation goes a long way to improve functioning in older adults. Many seniors are home and isolated, and the only stimulation they get is watching television. At the VNSNY CHOICE Adult Day Center, we see endless examples of people who come to our center withdrawn, depressed and confused. After just a few short months, with a consistent routine, socialization and participation in activities, we see people’s mood and level of functioning greatly improve.

In our dementia program, with some cognitive stimulation, the changes can be remarkable. Louise was completely non-verbal when she started coming to the center. She was very depressed, unable to participate in activities on her own and unable to follow even the simplest directions. During an art activity, she was unable to pick a color or draw anything.   After 2 months of attending the center regularly and observing the art class, she started asking for colors and creating beautiful pictures on her own. It was truly amazing to see, and it gave her such joy to be productive and able to express herself. This has extended to her life at home, she now responds during conversations with her family, and is able to make her needs known to aides. Mary was very depressed when she started at the center. She used to love crossword puzzles so staff encouraged her to try them again. She was hesitant and insecure about remembering words. With gentle encouragement and assistance from staff, she grew more enthusiastic, and after a couple of months, she started doing them on her own. Now, she’s so proud of her accomplishment, her depression has lifted, and she’s doing crossword puzzles both at the center and at home on the days she doesn’t come.

Even if you or your loved one cannot get out to a center, there are so many low cost, easy activities you can do at home to exercise your brain – try a word search, crossword puzzle, trivia or board games, cards, dominoes or drawing, just to name a few…


  • Pinned this article on my Mental Health News Page.

  • Pinned this on my Health and Mental Health Board.

  • Sorry about the double posting, wrong address first time and now a triple comment.

Show All Comments (3)

Submit a Comment