Keeping Cognitive

Retired men playing chess

What Are Cognitive Skills and Why Are They Important?

Cognitive skills refer to the way your brain works – how you process and recall information. Here are a few cognitive skills that impact your daily life:

Thinking, speaking, learning, reading and writing, using critical thinking skills and remembering events, experiences, and more.

As we age, some of these cognitive skills aren’t as sharp as they once were. Fortunately, your brain is like any other muscle, and with regular exercise, you can keep it limber and healthy. To keep your brain active and healthy, let’s look at some activities that you can work into your daily or weekly routine. Engaging in these cognitive games is easy when you live at Kirby Pines. Regular mental exercises, like ones listed below, can have a positive impact on your cognitive skills.

Arts and Crafts

Creative thinking is always a good way to keep your mind active. Using your creative skills on arts and crafts projects not only helps you keep your mind busy, it keeps your hands active, as well. These projects don’t have to be elaborate or too expensive either. In fact, many of you may already have arts and crafts hobbies that you engage in each day, like knitting, needlepoint, woodworking, painting, or anything else that gets your creative juices flowing.

Trivia Games

Trivia games are fun and popular activities for people of all ages, but they can be especially helpful for seniors who want to exercise their recall skills and engage with family or friends. These games encourage you to think back to past events or facts you have learned throughout your lives.


There are few activities as relaxing as quietly doing a puzzle on a rainy day. Puzzles are another great way for you to stretch mental muscles and stimulate brain function. Cognitive games like puzzles are problem-solving activities, requiring you to look for patterns and pay attention to details.


Instead of looking for image or word patterns, you can look for numeric patterns with Sudoku puzzles. Sudoku puzzles will keep your problem-solving skills sharp, and it comes in multiple levels of difficulty. The feeling of accomplishment will motivate you to keep going and do more puzzles. Plus, buying a book of Sudoku puzzles is one of the more inexpensive cognitive games for you to try.

Board Games

Everyone loves board games! Not only are board games fun, they also help your mind stay active. Strategic games like Chess and Checkers are great for working out those mental muscles. They require players to consider the pros and cons that come with each move, anticipate the moves of their opponents, and develop a strategy for the game. Traditional board games like Clue or Sorry! can be fun, helpful options, too.


Finally, while it might seem pretty basic, having an engaging conversation and socializing with others is a really helpful way for you to stay mentally active. Remembering names and keeping up with topics discussed helps to avoid loneliness and boredom, while keeping your mind engaged, as well. Although many people have a tendency to avoid over-socialization as they age or their memory starts to fade, these personal interactions can benefit you tremendously. When you live at Kirby Pines, it’s easy to interact with staff and other community members as much as you want each day.