It’s important that seniors keep their minds active and stimulated throughout the day. In order for neural connections to remain firing at full capacity, the brain needs to be constantly exercised, just like a muscle. This may help prevent loss of memory and cognitive function. Many seniors living at home or in a residence spend much of their days with little to no mental stimulation. Those who have regular visits from caregivers or family members generally receive more mental stimulation than those who live alone; luckily, there are brain games for seniors that can be played alone for similar benefits.
While research is still observational, studies have shown that for prevention of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, there may be a link between staying mentally active and keeping strong neural connections. In other words, when it comes to memory, the operates on the old adage of ‘use it or lose it’.
What are the Benefits of Memory/Brain Games?
Exercising the mind is beneficial at any age, but especially for seniors. As previously mentioned, it’s possible they can help reduce the likelihood of mental decline caused by dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Other benefits may include:
- Faster mental processing ability;
- Reducing anxiety and depression;
- Learning new skills;
- Enhancing reflexes, organizational skills, and concentration;
- Greater memory retention;
- Improvement of social skills and lower risk of feeling isolated/lonely.
Not only can these games have benefits to a senior’s cognitive strength, but they can also help with bonding, as many of the games can be played with grandchildren, friends, caregivers, or other loved ones.
List of Brain Games for Seniors
This ancient game has long been a favorite for those looking to exercise their minds. It takes strategy and patience, and can help an elderly person hone their spatial skills, problem-solving skills, concentration, and even memory. This is because the game requires forward planning on the consequences of each move, making it an ideal brain game for seniors, and a great way to spend the time for those who spend long portions of their day being idle.
2. Word Puzzles
There are many different types of word puzzles for an elderly person to choose from. These can include crossword puzzles, hidden word games, “fill in the blank” games (such as hangman), and more. These games strengthen brain connections and memory, especially for words. Many seniors who develop dementia will find trouble remembering common vocabulary terms. Crossword puzzles and other word games may help prevent this. An added benefit to these types of activities is that they can be done alone, and can be very relaxing for a senior who’s experiencing high levels of stress.
3. Board Games
Similarly, board games like Scrabble also help with logical reasoning and memory retention of words; however, this game requires a second player. Other games such as Blokus and Quirkle require matching colors and shapes. In truth, most (if not all) board games are beneficial to seniors and a great way to spend the time, as they require strategic thinking and can help with socializing.
Another type of board game that helps train the mind is trivia games. A popular choice is Trivial Pursuit, which comes in decade-specific variations, allowing the senior to choose trivia from a time period they recall best. The game can be played with grandchildren or caregivers, and focuses on memory, challenging seniors to remember information such as historical events, pop culture, people and places. This type of brain game can help with the forming of new neural connections.
Another pen-on-paper game that can be played alone, anytime, anywhere. This one can be found for free in most newspapers, or in a puzzle book. It requires logic and strategy to fill in the boxes without repeating any numbers, improving concentration, pattern recognition and decision-making.
It’s fun and easy to learn, and as well, provides a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment once a puzzle is successfully completed.
5. Online Games
In general, seniors will probably not feel as comfortable with mobile or computer games, and would prefer card, board, or paper games. However, there are many benefits of modern technology for seniors, and online brain games are one of them. Some popular ones include websites such as Lumosity, Dakim, AARP’s ‘Staying Sharp’ online games, and interactive, physical video games like the Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect.
Websites like Lumosity offer free trials of mini-games that require matching colors and shapes, completing mazes, and many other stimulating puzzles. These games intend to train key areas of the brain such as memory, concentration, speed, language, strategizing, and more.
6. Card Games
Card games are another great, old-fashioned way to keep the mind active. In particular, the game Concentration (also called Match, Match-Up, Memory, or Pairs) is very popular for children, but also a simple and fun memory game for seniors. It’s played by setting all 52 cards of a deck face-down, then flipping over two and trying to match pairs. This requires remembering where the cards are located in the grid. It’s easy to play alone, with loved ones, or friends.
While there are many benefits of brain games for seniors, it’s important to remember that the brain is like a muscle, and must be trained often to see results. Therefore, it’s best to keep the mind active with puzzles or other activities at least once per day. If you have an elderly loved one who lives alone and could benefit from mental stimulation, consider hiring a professional caregiver from Complete Care Coordination. Our companion care services include friendly activities such as card/board games, going for walks, shopping, library visits, and more. Please feel free to contact us today for a free consultation.