What do we fear more than death as we get older? Dementia. Worse than anything else is the loss of dreams, the loss of memories and the ability to think, the loss of self.


You’ve known people with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. Have you ever wondered if there are ways to prevent dementia, to protect your mind?

Nothing can prevent Alzheimer’s but there are ways to prevent your mind from becoming stagnant as you age. You don’t have to become forgetful and slow.

How can you do that? By playing games, by reading, by learning. Keeping your mind active is the key. There are lots of ways to exercise the brain. And most of them are fun and easy.

Let’s take a look at some simple ways to prevent dementia and stay sharp as you age…

1. Try Brain Games for Seniors

If you want to be able to age in place and stay independent after retirement, you need to keep your mind sharp. One easy way to do that is by playing games. The following are some of our favorite brain games for seniors.

Crossword Puzzles: You can use the newspaper or look online for many more.

Sudoku: This math game is also found in both print and online format.

Chess: Chess is better played on a board where you can study your opponent.

Scrabble: Get the board game and play with the grandkids or online with other adults.

Jigsaw Puzzles: These are actually a lot of fun online and you won’t lose the pieces.

Trivia: You can go for the tried and true Trivial Pursuit or an online version, Trivia Crack.

Rubik’s Cube: This classic brain game is best played with the hands to get both mental and physical stimulation.

2. Arts and Crafts to Stay Sharp

While this might not have been an interest when you were working, you might find carpentry, quilting, crocheting or other crafts enjoyable now. Painting is both creative and rewarding.

You can take classes in many art forms, such as sculpture, pottery and painting, at local colleges. There are painting nights at restaurants being offered now. Get a couple of friends to go with you, do some painting and have a good time.

3. Prevent Dementia with Literature

Book clubs are a lot of fun. Get together with friends or join one full of strangers. Argue over the latest New York Times bestseller or stick to a particular genre. Have fun with mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, romance, or historical fiction.

Memorizing poetry has been shown to prevent dementia, or at least, to keep the mind sharp for years longer. Memorize some poems and recite them whenever you’re alone, working in the garden, walking, or cleaning the house.

Storytelling is also a great way to stay sharp as you age. Spend some time crafting a tale or two to tell your grandchildren or share with friends.

4. Play Games with Friends and Family

Introduce your grandkids to board games, Monopoly for example. And read to them. Get them involved in reading. There’s no greater gift you can give them.

You can also play card games with friends like Bridge or Gin Rummy. Your mind will be stimulated and you’ll also get the benefit of being socially active.

Bingo is another great option. It’s surprisingly mentally stimulating and you’ll have a great time playing it with friends or family. Plus, you might win a prize!

5. Learn Something New

Local colleges usually have courses for seniors in almost every subject. Learn a new language and plan a trip to a country where you can show off your knowledge.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of online courses. Learn to write. Take a history class. Dig into philosophy. These are the real brain games for seniors.

6. Get Out and Volunteer

There are so many charities and organizations that need help. Some need specialized help that you might have. Others just need people to walk and love dogs.

The Humane Society: Help them care for dogs, cats, and other pets in need.

Local Hospitals: They always need people to sit at the information desk or read to children in the pediatrics ward.

Museums: Become a trained docent. Learn about the collections in your local museum.

7. Stay Active and Social

There are so many ways to sharpen your mind and to prevent your brain from fogging over. All that is required is some initiative. But physical activity is just as important as mental activity.

Don’t be a couch potato. Stay active! Brain games, puzzles, memorization, physical activity, and keeping busy have all been demonstrated to improve mental capabilities, as well as your quality of life.

Whether it’s gardening, hiking or walking your dog, you need to get some exercise. Try a Yoga or Tai Chi class to not only improve your muscle strength but also improve balance and help to prevent falls.

Just because you’re getting older, you don’t have to act your age. Get out there and have fun. Think about moving to one of the more senior-friendly communities when you retire to help you stay active and engaged.