Skip to main content

Cognitive Health for Seniors: Home

This guide provides valuable resources for library professionals in meeting the cognitive health needs of older adults. Cognitive health is essential in maintaining the ability to think clearly, remember and learn.



"More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's" according to the Alzheimer's Association.  The aging community and their caregivers seek information on maintaining and improving cognitive health.  The ability to think clearly, remember and learn impact quality of life and independence.  Library professionals are in a unique position to provide information, interventions, resources and programming for older adults, caregivers and health professionals, providing quality service to the aging population.  This guide contains valuable resources for library and health care professionals, caregivers, family and friends of seniors and older adults wishing to take an active role in cognitive health care.  Through physical, mental and social activity, older adults can improve or maintain their cognitive abilities.  

Understanding the cognitive condition of the older population is essential in offering effective interventions to reduce cognitive decline, "Knowledge of the normal and pathological changes in cognition that occur in aging is essential background to understanding interventions to optimize cognition in older adults," (Williams & Kemper, 2010).  Interest groups and the public market have introduced an assortment of novel brain health tools, including the use of audio, visual and digital technologies.  Computer interactives, video games and memory tapes are just a few examples of brain health resources available (Williams & Kempter, 2010).  This guide explores the vast array of cognitive health aides available, in an effort to successfully meet the unique and diverse needs of the older community.


Image result for welcome door


"Facts and Figures." (n.d.).  Alzheimer's Association.  Retrieved 30 January 2019 from

Williams, K. & Kemper, S. (2010, May).  “Exploring Interventions to Reduce Cognitive Decline in Aging.”  Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health. Retrieved 30 January 2019 from



What is cognitive health?

The Changing Brain

Our brains are complex and always changing as they repair broken connections and make new connections.  Brain plasticity, or the ability for the brain to continually develop as we gain information and life experiences, may include changes in brain function ("Your Brain is Always Changing").  Brain changes are normal, we all lose lists and keys.  Noticeable brain changes in older adults are common and may interfere with daily living, "Most persons experience measurable cognitive loss by age 60, with widespread declines by age 75," (Williams & Kemper, 2010 quoting Schaie, Willis & Caskie).  Proactive attention to brain health can assist in maintaining and improving overall cognitive abilities. Engaging in mental and physical activity, paying close attention to nutrition, and social opportunities are identified areas related to cognitive health.

This guide shows users the path to better brain health, providing direction and opportunities to maintain cognitive abilities, quality of life and independence. 


Image result for trail sign



Schaie, K., Willis K. & Caskie, G. (2004, June). "The Seattle longitudinal Study:  Relationship between personality and cognition." Neuropsychology of Cognition (11) p. 304-324.  

Williams, K. & Kemper, S. (2010, May).  “Exploring Interventions to Reduce Cognitive Decline in Aging.”  Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health. Retrieved 30 January 2019 from

"Your Brain is Always Changing." (2019).  What is Brain Health?  Retrieved 30 January 2019 from ttps://



What can you do to maintain cognitive health?

The Global Council on Brain Health in conjunction with AARP offer insight into healthy lifestyle habits that lead to better cognitive health.  This video allows viewers to alter the caption settings for increased accessibility to video content.


AARP. (n.d.). "Global Council on Brain Health."  AARP.  Retrieved 30 January 2019 from


A Note about Accessibility

The United States Access Board develops standards to ensure individuals with disabilities are able to access video content ("Texts of the Standards and Guidelines").  Closed captioning offers textual display of the audio tracks of a television program, allowing viewers with auditory disabilities access to programming ("Closed Captioning on Television"). The Descriptive Video Service enhances television, feature films and home videos with additional narrative features to better serve the visually impaired viewer.  In some instances, narration of the visual elements of a video are provided through a third audio channel and allow the vier to turn on or off the additional narrative to fit their particular needs ("Descriptive Video").

Audio, visual and large print resources in this guide are intended to limit barriers to access information regarding maintaining cognitive health.  Where appropriate, additional formats are listed for the materials mentioned, further encouraging accessibility.




"Closed Captioning on Television." (2018, April 11). Federal Communications Commission.  Retrieved from  affairs

"Descriptive Video." (n.d.). American Foundation for the Blind.  Retrieved 30 January 2019 from

"Texts of the Standards and Guidelines" (n.d.).  United States Access Board.  Retrieved 30 January 2019 from


Why include visual, audio and interactive media?


Using visual imagery improves learning capabilities, "Based upon research outcomes, the effective use of visuals can decrease learning time, improve comprehension, enhance retrieval, and increase retention," (Kouyoumdjian, 2012).  Visual cues, beneficial learning tools, assist in retrieving and remembering information and may be particularly helpful for the older adult.


Studies have shown that users who engage in auditory exercises improve their ability to process information, "The study indicates that choosing a memory-enhancing approach that focuses on improving brain processing speed and accuracy, rather than memory retention, may be helpful," (Mayo Clinic). In the Mayo Clinic study, 242 people engaged in auditory exercises and reported significant memory improvement evidenced by the ability to repeat numbers and words after hearing them only once, positively impacting their ability to fulfill daily tasks (Mayo Clinic). Auditory tools benefit cognitive health. 

Interactive Media

Adult use of interactive media and gaming, in particular, have proven beneficial in improving brain function, "Adults who play action video games, or non-users trained on action games, show improvements in multiple aspects of visual attention, including skills like localising [sic] rapid visual targets, better spatial resolution, and mental rotation (You can train your brain). The demanding nature of action video games uses adaptive training while requiring high levels of coordination, effectively exercises cognitive abilities.



Kouyoumdjian, H. (2012, Jul 20).  Learning through Visuals: Visual imagery in the classroom.  Psychology Today. Retrieved 30 January 2019 from

Mayo Clinic. (2009, February 11). Improving Brain Processing Speed Helps Memory. Science Daily. Retrieved January 30, 2019 from

You can train your brain with digital media. (n.d.).  Center for Educational Neuroscience.  Retrieved 30 January 2019 from