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Mental Exercise Can Help Seniors Improve Memory Skills

Can crossword puzzles and photographs really help older Americans?

Absolutely, says Shaun Jayakar, MD, St. John Hospital and Medical Center internist and geriatrician. “Mental exercise can be a huge benefit for people as they age, especially those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. “

Whether memory loss is hindering your (or a loved one’s) lifestyle, or you’re just noticing some forgetfulness, mental exercise can delay the loss of intellectual ability that faces many as they age.

There are three broad types of memory issues:

While there is much research going on to find a vaccine, cure, or lasting and effective treatment for these issues, there is no current cure for dementia. But, there are many things you can do.

Keep Current to Day, Time, and Events

To keep your circadian rhythm from getting out of whack, keep lights on during the day, and off during the night. To make things simple, buy a timer from a home improvement store to automatically keep lights on schedule. Get a newspaper subscription, or watch TV or listen to radio news to stay current on world and local events. People who can remember the date, day of the week, and be aware of the world around them are more able to handle their day than those who can not.


As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the patient begins to forget family members and friends. Consider creating a photo album of loved ones. Online publishers like and offer many options for beautiful photo books that are affordable and simple. 

When going to the hospital, take photos of family. It’s common to lose sense of time and reality when hospitalized, especially in the evening hours, when some patients behave contrary to their nature and become disoriented or hostile. Having familiar items and photos can help you re-orient to time and place.

Mental Stimulation

Finally, try crossword or Sudoku puzzles. Read books that make you think. Play card games or Scrabble with friends or grandchildren. Discuss the news, or ask others their opinion on a world affair. Get together with other people who are good conversationalists.

The more a person with memory issues is engaged with their world, and oriented to it, the healthier they will be mentally.

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