How to Improve Your Memory and Cognitive Function
Have you heard of cognitive stimulation? From many academic pieces of research, we are informed that this type of stimulation is important in our lives. To prevent cognitive decline, to activate our brain, to improve our functions. But what is it exactly? and what is it for? We answer these questions, and we are also going to see an example to put into practice.
What is cognitive stimulation?
Cognitive stimulation is a group of actions aimed at improving or maintaining cognitive functions. In this way, you do mental exercise and keep your brain active, because you not only have to be physically active but also mentally. And what are these cognitive functions, the ones that we can train and improve? We explain some of them below:
- Memory: It is the ability to store and retrieve information. Thanks to its emotions, experiences, knowledge, people, objects are remembered.
- Orientation: Thanks to this function, you can be aware of yourself, where you are, and when you are. Knowing your age, the year you live, or where you are going are some examples of orientation.
- Attention: When you direct your attention on a task or for example if you do it without letting other stimuli distract you.
- Language: This cognitive function includes expression, comprehension, fluency, or the ability to name, among others.
- Executive functions: They are complex activities that allow us to organize, plan or, for example, review. Some of them are reasoning, flexibility or decision making.
What are cognitive stimulation exercises for?
These types of exercises serve to maintain and improve our mental abilities. That is, if we want to improve our memory capacity there are exercises for it. They are exercises designed by professionals and aimed at the objective that is set. It is believed that training your brain can prevent future problems.
They can also be used for some pathologies such as mild cognitive impairment or some dementia such as Alzheimer’s. In these cases, the exercises are specific and personalized according to the capacities that are still preserved. Thus, cognitive stimulation focuses on, for example, slowing down the deterioration, preventing disconnection with the environment or improving autonomy.
Top 9 Cognitive stimulation exercises
As we have mentioned earlier, the exercises are developed and programmed according to the abilities of the person and the objective to be achieved. For example, if you want to improve memory, do exercises created for it. If you want to strengthen the memory of a person with cognitive impairment, they will recommend specific exercises. Here are some cognitive stimulation exercises for adults. These stimulate different cognitive functions such as attention, language, or memory.
1. Surround symbols
For this exercise, you will be given a peculiar sheet. On this sheet, you will see many different symbols. You will see numbers and some symbols. Now, this activity aims to pay attention and circle the symbols that are indicated to you.
2. Sort images
For this activity, you are going to see a series of images that show you the steps to follow to travel by train. From going to the corresponding platform to getting off it. The images are out of order so you should order them according to the steps you would take. The scenario for this game varies based on your location mostly.
3. Order words
This activity encompasses reading and getting their meanings right. The goal is to build a sentence with it. So you can arrange them and write below the phrase you have gotten for putting them in order.
4. Read and choose
The next move is to read the next sentence. Now you must choose the word that corresponds to the definition you just read. For example, what is the object that gives you the time?
5. Point to the shadow
Another wonderful activity for stimulating cognitive functions is the game of pointing the shadow. The aim is to look closely at people and look at shadow images. Only one shadow corresponds to the person. So, point to the person the shadow corresponds to.
6. Number of objects
For this activity, you will be given a sheet, you will see many objects, and some are repeated. Then write in each circle the number of objects you see. For example, how many strawberries are there? Write down your answer.
7. Object categories
In a chart, there are several groups of words and a numbered space. Read each group of words carefully and write in that space the category to which they correspond. For example, pants, shirts, skirts, and sweaters belong to the clothing category.
8. Associate words
The words are arranged in three columns and must be joined with arrows. Imagine a three-category column (day, month, and holiday) that contains several words. The aim is to join with arrows the day, the month, and the corresponding holiday. For example, 25, December and Christmas.
For this activity, you are provided with an image chart that you must study carefully. Look at all the objects in it. Take your time. Then stop looking at it and write down the objects that you have seen and remember.
Tips for choosing the right activity and carrying it out:
- Focus on the enjoyment and not the result.
- Consider their tastes and interests.
- Activities that your family member enjoyed before suffering cognitive impairment can continue to be so, promote their performance by offering them and helping to complete them.
- Invite the person to do the activity together or offer a choice among several to choose the one that appeals to them the most.
- Look for signs of enjoyment and change activities whenever necessary if you detect tiredness, boredom, or frustration.
- Consider what is the most appropriate time of day. Knowing when your family member is most attentive or bored can serve as an indication.
- Adapt activities to the person’s abilities, offer necessary help, be aware of sensory limitations, and avoid dangerous activities. Help get the activity started and break it into small steps.
- Talk to the person sharing what we are doing.
From here, we encourage you to activate your mind. We encourage you to take care of your abilities, to improve, for example, memory or orientation. In the same way that you take care of your diet or do physical exercise, activate your mind. Stay in shape, eat a healthy diet, and take care of your mind. These are the keys to being healthy. In closing, we remind you that cognitive stimulation is useful and effective in keeping the mind active. It also manages to maintain cognitive abilities and delay their deterioration.