Researchers across the world agree that brain games are effective for seniors, especially those who are at high risk for or are already living with dementia.
Because the elderly don’t always have to rely on the quick-thinking skills they once needed to work, drive, care for kids and cook meals, seniors’ memory and processing abilities can deteriorate quickly. But if seniors regularly play brain games, recent research suggests they can stay sharp for 10 more years, specifically in their reasoning ability and processing speeds.
Here are 5 brain games that may help improve the memory of seniors:
1. Memory. In this classic two-person game, players flip over cards to reveal matches. Once the player gets a match, they get to keep it, and the player with the most matches wins. Play the game online for free, or pick one up in the board game section of Walmart. Because this game works for all ages, kids and seniors often enjoy playing it together. You can also find fancier versions of the game that can add pizzaz to a coffee table. Better yet, customize a game with your own pictures for $20 on Shutterfly.
2. Trivia. A simple Google search can yield a number of fun trivia questions that may suit your loved one’s interests. Because people with dementia often retain long-term memories, this is a fun way to mix in questions about their past. You can ask questions like, “Who sang ‘Hound Dog?’” with contemporary questions like, “Do you know who the Vice President is?” Check out these trivia questions from the ‘50s and these senior citizen trivia questions for free.
3. The Ungame, Seniors Edition. Designed specifically for seniors, this game is printed in large text on cards that give conversation prompts. Older folks with dementia tend to repeat phrases or stick to saying things that are in a “script” in their head. This game can challenge them to think more deeply and have a structured and natural-feeling conversation. It’s also a great way for you and your children to learn more about your loved one. Who knows – you could be surprised at what you may find out! It’s $10 on Amazon.
4. Lumosity. Popular for all ages, this subscription-based service of cognitive tests and games allows you to work toward goals in memory cognition, speed, attention, flexibility and problem-solving skills. You can play it on a computer, iPhone, iPad or Android device. In 2014, the game had more than 50 million users from 182 countries and topped the Apple iTunes App Store charts. Lumosity collaborates with researchers from universities around the world. It costs about $4 a month.
5. Crossword Puzzles. Consider buying a book of large-print crossword puzzles and encourage your loved one to tackle one a day or one a week, depending on their current cognitive ability. Or, find crossword puzzles for free online – AARP has some good ones. This is also a great reason to catch up with your loved ones and help them with the clues they might have been struggling with since you last saw them.
Watching loved ones age and lose recognition of the people and events that were once so close to their hearts is a difficult and emotional experience for adult children. But playing brain games can not only help improve your loved one’s memory and curb dementia – it’s also a great way to bond with your loved ones as you learn even more about them. At The Preserve at Clearwater, we offer a number of games and activities in our specialized memory care programming for seniors to keep their cognitive abilities sharp. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about our philosophy and approach to dementia care.
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