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estimulación cognitiva en adultos mayores

The aging process is an inevitable chapter in all of our lives. As we age, we experience a series of changes, both physical and psychological, as well as social. However, instead of fearing aging, we can embrace it as an opportunity for growth and continued development. Cognitive stimulation in older adults has become a valuable ally for this purpose, allowing for the maintenance and enhancement of cognitive functioning through specific exercises and activities.

What does cognitive stimulation in older adults entail?

Cognitive stimulation in older adults is a process designed to maintain and improve cognitive function, mental speed, and flexibility. It involves the application of a series of activities and exercises that are not only beneficial for the mind but can also be enjoyable and engaging. The importance of this stimulation lies in its ability to contribute to active and healthy aging, promoting emotional and physical independence in older individuals.

One of the most notable advantages of cognitive stimulation is its ability to slow down the decline in cognitive abilities and skills, which can be especially relevant for those facing neurodegenerative diseases. Cognitive stimulation is tailored to different stages of adulthood and can help prevent or delay the process of cognitive decline, allowing older adults to enjoy an improved quality of life.

What is aging?

As we mentioned, aging is a dynamic and inevitable process that encompasses a wide range of changes in a person’s life. It includes physical, psychological, and social transformations that vary widely from one individual to another. Although it is often associated with deficits and losses, it is essential to recognize that aging not only involves losses but can also bring improvements in some areas.

In this context, Spain, with an average life expectancy of 83 years, is among the countries with the longest-living populations in the world. This increase in life expectancy is a trend that has been on the rise since the 1970s. Such a condition is most evident in women, who live on average five years longer than men. Indeed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the percentage of people over 60 years old is expected to almost double between 2015 and 2050, from 12% to 22% of the global population.

The aging population highlights the need to address the cognitive decline that typically comes with advancing years. Therefore, cognitive stimulation in older adults is a valuable resource for preventing more serious pathologies, such as dementia, and for improving the quality of life for older individuals. Furthermore, it is essential to consider the physical decline that accompanies aging, which can be mitigated through regular physical exercise.

What are the symptoms of aging?

As we age, it is common to experience a range of physical and cognitive symptoms. Among the general symptoms are hearing and visual loss, joint pains, sleep disorders, and emotional disturbances. Furthermore, it is important to highlight the cognitive symptoms that often concern older adults:

  • Memory loss. Frequent forgetfulness is common as we age and can be a source of frustration.
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration. Maintaining focus becomes challenging, and interest in activities may diminish.
  • Difficulties in executive functions. Planning and decision-making can become more complicated.
  • Communication problems. Finding the right word in a specific context can be difficult.
  • Slowness in task execution. Tasks may take longer, and problem-solving may become slower.

Regarding emotional well-being, older adults may face symptoms of anxiety and depression. Stress and awareness of changes and declines can lead to feelings of frustration and sadness.

It is important to remember that cognitive stimulation in older adults can be a valuable tool for addressing these symptoms and improving the quality of life for older individuals.

Specifically, various aspects can be managed through activities for cognitive stimulation in older adults, for example:

Exercise and physical activity

Exercise and physical activity are fundamental in everyone’s life, regardless of age. This is especially relevant for older adults, as maintaining an active lifestyle can make a difference in their quality of life. Physical inactivity, not age itself, is what usually affects older adults’ ability to perform their daily activities. In fact, lack of movement can result in more medical consultations, hospitalizations, and the use of medications to treat various diseases.

The benefits of staying active in old age are numerous:

  • Preserving and improving strength. Regular exercise helps maintain and improve muscle strength, which is essential for independence and the ability to perform daily activities.
  • Increasing energy. Regular physical activity provides more energy, reduces fatigue, and allows older adults to carry out their daily activities more effectively.
  • Improving balance. Exercise can help improve balance and reduce the risk of falls and related injuries.
  • Preventing diseases. Regular physical activity can help control and prevent diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and various types of cancer.
  • Improving sleep. Better quality sleep is essential for overall well-being.
  • Reducing stress and anxiety. Exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety levels, improving emotional well-being.

In addition to these benefits, physical activity can also improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function. Some research suggests that exercise can contribute to improving mental agility, the ability to quickly switch between tasks, plan activities, and filter out irrelevant information.

Mental and memory exercises for cognitive stimulation in older adults

Like physical exercise, mental and memory exercises should be performed regularly to maintain mental agility and keep the brain fit. These exercises are beneficial for both those experiencing cognitive decline and those wishing to keep their minds active and healthy.

It is important to consider three factors when choosing mental exercises:

  • Area to work on. Start with simple exercises and gradually increase difficulty. Identify the cognitive skills to improve, such as reasoning, communication, or memory.
  • Difficulty. Start with simple exercises and gradually increase difficulty to maintain the challenge.
  • Objective. Define the purpose of cognitive exercises. They may aim to delay cognitive decline, preserve existing abilities, or simply serve as a hobby and source of entertainment.

There are numerous resources available for accessing mental stimulation exercises for older adults. You can find books, apps, and websites offering a wide variety of activities designed to improve different aspects of cognition. Additionally, there are exercises that combine physical and mental activity, such as meditation and yoga, which offer benefits for both motor skills and memory and attention.

Reading and writing

Reading and writing are intellectual activities that not only stimulate the mind but also foster creativity and emotional well-being. These hobbies can be particularly beneficial for older adults, allowing them to stay mentally active while enjoying moments of relaxation.

Sensory activities

Activities involving the use of the senses are another effective way to exercise the mind and keep older adults connected to their environment. These activities can improve sensory perception and help enhance memory.

Music therapy is an example of a sensory activity for cognitive stimulation in older adults, due to its benefits for mental health. Music can evoke memories, emotions, and stimulate the mind in a unique way. Additionally, there are other activities that focus on recognizing images, textures, and smells, which help keep the mind active and improve memory.

Other cognitive stimulation activities

  • Fine motor skills. In addition to exercising the mind, stimulating fine motor skills is essential for maintaining mobility in old age. Activities such as calligraphy, drawing, knitting, embroidery, gardening, and mandala creation help maintain dexterity and coordination. These activities can also provide a sense of usefulness and satisfaction, but it is important to choose activities that are not too complicated to avoid frustration.
  • Artistic activities. Myths about declining creativity with age are unfounded. Indeed, many older adults find more time to develop their creativity at this stage of life. Artistic activities such as painting, sculpture, music, and dance are excellent ways to stimulate the mind, reduce stress, and experience a sense of well-being.
  • Language and arithmetic. To improve aspects such as language and mathematical skills, hobbies are an excellent choice. Word games, number puzzles, word searches, sudoku, and crosswords are examples of activities that stimulate reasoning and mental agility. These hobbies are entertaining and effective for keeping the mind active.
  • Orientation games. Orientation games are ideal for improving attention and spatial awareness. Activities such as matching pairs, finding hidden images, following maps, and solving puzzles are examples of exercises that stimulate the mind and improve spatial perception. Additionally, performing everyday tasks such as cooking or setting the table can be an effective way to exercise the mind by organizing steps logically.
  • Board games. Board games such as chess, dominoes, parcheesi, cards, and bingo are activities that not only stimulate the mind but also improve psychomotor skills in old age and promote social interaction.

Inrobics Rehab: An Adaptive Solution for Cognitive Stimulation in Older Adults

Indeed, Inrobics Rehab is a rehabilitation solution based on Social Robotics and AI developed by Inrobics, perfectly adaptable to cognitive stimulation. We’re talking about a personalized, empathetic, and flexible service that enhances treatment effectiveness and access through the most innovative technologies. The Artificial Intelligence platform allows for a comprehensive assessment and monitoring of patient progress.

Precisely, the implementation of this solution has provided significant benefits for patients:

  • Stimulation exercises can be done at home.
  • More than 95% increased their attention, motivation, and treatment adherence.
  • By being part of their recovery, the user becomes empowered.
  • Facilitates treatment intensification.
  • 7 out of 10 families observe functional improvement in the patient’s performance of daily activities.

For this reason, Inrobics Rehab is the only social robotics solution certified as a medical device in Europe. Contact us for a free demonstration of its functionalities for cognitive stimulation in older adults!