5 Ways Brain and Memory Games Benefit Seniors

Author

BrightStar Care

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Brightstar Care

Posted on

Dec 04, 2023

Book/Edition

Florida - Sarasota, Bradenton & Charlotte Counties , Florida - Southwest

Share This

Cognitive health is something that we tend to take for granted, but it’s what allows us to think clearly, learn, and remember. These are all important in our everyday function, but as we age and our bodies begin to change, our brains change as well. Some parts of the brain, including those used in learning and other complicated mental activities, begin to shrink. Blood flow in the brain may decrease, and communication between neurons may become less effective. Even in healthy older adults, these changes can begin to affect our cognitive function, making us slower to recall names and remember words, causing us to struggle with multitasking and diminishing our ability to pay attention. In people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this loss of cognitive abilities is progressive.

While there isn’t a cure for cognitive decline yet, studies indicate there may be a link between brain games and improving cognitive abilities. The research may be inconclusive, but more medical experts are recommending brain games to slow down or prevent senior memory loss. Just as physical exercise keeps your body in shape, certain games and puzzles can keep your brain active and healthy.

Five Ways Brain Games and Active Learning Benefit Seniors

Brain games help slow down age-related mental decline.

Many seniors experience an age-related mental decline with slower reaction times, diminished vocabulary and a memory that isn’t as sharp as it used to be. This is all par for the course of living a long, happy life. However, brain games and active learning can help reengage and improve a person’s thinking skills. It’s especially helpful if you vary the games played to promote learning new skills, words or trivia facts.

Brain games help seniors stay connected with loved ones.

Wondering what to do with an aging loved one in your care? Try playing a brain game the whole family can enjoy. Not only will you be giving their brain health a boost, but you’ll also get the chance to connect with your loved one in a meaningful way. You can include a wider network of friends and family by connecting through a video chat app on your smartphone or tablet while playing online brain games.

Brain games can help alleviate senior stress and anxiety.

Finishing a crossword puzzle or playing a board game can help ease feelings of stress or anxiety. Playing games is good for the mind and soul, as it keeps people socially active with friends, family or others in their community. Being more social helps eliminate or reduce the feelings of loneliness or depression many seniors face. Who couldn’t benefit from a boost in their brain health, mood and social skills?

Mastering new skills or games makes seniors feel engaged.

You’re never too old to learn a new skill or master a new game. Finding new hobbies as we age is essential to our mental and physical health. If quilting, gardening or photography aren’t quite your senior loved one’s speed, consider helping them explore a new language through the many learning apps on your smartphone or tablet. You can also try your hand at helping them learn a new brain game. Staying in a routine encourages passive brain participation. If we never push our boundaries and develop new cognitive skills, we may start to feel a disconnect with the world around us.

Learning and playing games will keep you young at heart.

If you want to stay young at heart, the secret is finding new ways to test your cognitive abilities. It’s incredible how games that encourage active learning can make people feel younger and smarter while combating the feelings of boredom, restlessness or isolation plaguing today’s seniors. Whether it’s an online version of Jeopardy! or a simple game of match the cards, you can’t go wrong with games.

Effective Brain Stimulating Games and Activities for Seniors

You may be wondering what’s categorized as a brain game when purchasing gifts for aging loved ones. The truth is that, while just about any game is better than being sedentary and watching television, not every game is effective for slowing cognitive decline. There are a number that allow you to stretch your brain, including:

Chess

A classic game of strategy, chess helps build logical reasoning and problem-solving skills. It may initially seem complicated, but learning how to play can strengthen cognitive function, increasing IQ and focus. Chess can be played in person or online.

Checkers

Recent research indicates that regularly playing checkers is connected to larger brain volume and improved cognitive health. Checkers can help improve hand-eye coordination, increase mental acuity, and alleviate stress. Because you play with other people, it can also help provide positive social interaction.

Scrabble

Scrabble is beneficial for every age group, but particularly for older adults, because it improves memory functions, lowers blood pressure and increases overall general wellbeing. It can be educational, too, because there are sometimes words you and your loved one didn’t previously know.

Word Puzzles

There is evidence to suggest that playing games focused on language(Opens in a new window) may lead to improvements in memory, cognitive speed and verbal learning. These games include crosswords, word searches, anagrams, cryptograms, branded games like Mad Libs and online games like the recently released Wordle.

Playing Cards

Card games help people practice skills like reasoning, problem solving, memory and concentration. Card games can be played with a standard deck of cards or may have cards specific for the game, like Uno.

Matching and Memory Games for Adults

By testing short-term memory and the ability to remember patterns, matching and memory games engage the brain, activating areas related to recall and pattern recognition. Try a card matching game, or a memory game like listing the months of the year in alphabetical order or listing things that start with a certain letter.

Trivia Games

Playing trivia games can be an entertaining experience while also stimulating older adults’ minds. These games can be played as individual or on teams, and the topics and methods of playing can be modified to meet the needs of the people playing. Team trivia and Trivial Pursuit are two examples of fun trivia games.

Brain Stimulating Games for Alzheimer’s and Dementia

There are many treatments in the works for people with Alzheimer’s and/or dementia, including new medication and deep brain stimulation. While these treatments show a lot of promise, science has not yet found a cure for these debilitating conditions. There is evidence to indicate, however, that stimulating the brain using certain games can be helpful.

Recently, research was reviewed on the role of games in dementia care, looking at board games, video games, and virtual reality games. The review concluded that when people in the early and middle stages of dementia played these games, they saw improvement in a variety of cognitive abilities, including short-term memory, reaction time, problem solving, communication and logical reasoning. More research is needed, but there are some games believed to support a wide variety of cognitive skills for people with dementia.
When choosing brain games for adults with dementia, it is important to select games suitable for the individual’s cognitive abilities and preferences, carefully creating simple, familiar and non-frustrating experiences. Examples of games and activities for seniors with dementia include:

Word Puzzles

As stated earlier, games focused on language can improve memory, speed and verbal learning. For people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, research suggests that playing these games can lead to improvements not only seen through cognitive testing but also through neurophysical tests.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Working on a jigsaw puzzle is a fun way to work on memory and reasoning skills. Jigsaw puzzles come in a variety of difficulties, from simple, easy-to-piece-together puzzles to more complicated puzzles that require quite a bit of hand-eye coordination and memory recall. This makes it easy to choose a puzzle appropriate for a person’s abilities.

Dice Games

Dice games often have a central component of luck, but they are good for helping people with dementia practice numerical and calculation skills. Brain-stimulating dice games include backgammon, kismet, liar’s dice, shut the box and Yahtzee.

Card Games

Card games, as mentioned above, can boost skills like reasoning, problem solving, memory, and concentration. Since these skills are often in decline in people with dementia, they can be extremely beneficial. Matching games like go fish, trick-taking games like bridge, and even solitaire variations can be good for people with dementia.

Board Games

Board games use a premade board with game pieces and often elements like cards and dice. One recent study found that a higher frequency of playing board games between ages 70 and 79 resulted in less cognitive decline. Good board games to try include Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Ticket to Ride, Cranium and chess.

Video Games

Whether traditional desktop games, game systems like Wii and Switch, or cell phone and tablet games, research supports the theory that these games can enhance cognitive function in older adults, improving visual recognition, visual memory and attention. Tetris, Candy Crush Saga, Animal Crossing, Wii Sports, and mobile or app versions of classic word games, puzzles and board games can all be beneficial.

BrightStar Care® offers around-the-clock in-home senior care

At BrightStar Care®, we take a unique approach to caring for older adults by pairing our unmatched clinical expertise with key education resources to help and empower families. BrightStar Care helps families meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of an older relative by providing excellence in home health care.

Other Articles You May Like

Priority Life Care's Along the Journey Program

THE ALONG THE JOURNEY PROGRAM WAS CREATED BY PRIORITY LIFE CARE WITH RESIDENTS, THEIR FAMILIES, AND CAREGIVERS IN MIND.The services provided are adjusted to fit each individuals abilities and specific needs. The program has been designed to benefit all stages of memory loss while remaining flexible enough to be adapted daily.The overarching goal is to ensure that each resident, as well as their families, feel connected, respected, and comfortable during periods of difficult transition. The program primarily targets those suffering from memory impairments, whether it be early-stage dementia or late-stage Alzheimers.WHAT IS THE ALONG THE JOURNEY PROGRAM?Along the Journey (ATJ) is a memory care program that launched in 2019 in Priority Life Cares memory care neighborhoods. Fundamentally, it prioritizes strengths over limitations. Activities are purpose-driven and not based on achievement, thus allowing those with memory loss to participate without feeling lost, confused, and agitated.This innovative program begins with a holistic assessment of the residents abilities, both cognitive and physical. Based on the assessment, a care plan is formulated and includes input from the resident and their family, as well as their physicians and caregivers.The plan includes information on the likes, dislikes, and cultural preferences of the resident. To keep the seniors as comfortable as possible, the staff makes every effort to provide a largely predictable routine.FOSTERING A SENSE OF BELONGING WITHIN THE COMMUNITYThose suffering from diseases that affect memory may feel left behind or forgotten. At Priority Life Care, caregivers work in conjunction with the ATJ program to encourage physical motion, stimulate mental engagement, and offer opportunities for spiritual and social connection.Life stations provide a sense of familiarity for the resident through tasks such as folding clothes and operating a computer. This allows the senior to focus on a specific, low-stress task with an attainable outcome.Social engagements such as trivia games and ice cream parties are scheduled, which allow residents the opportunity to become acquainted with other residents. The program celebrates small wins as significant achievements, allowing everyone the chance to be represented.Activities are thoughtfully designed around reducing any agitation and improving the mood of the residents. Social interaction is encouraged to ward off isolation, which can further impair a residents wellness journey.SUPPORTING THOSE WITH MEMORY IMPAIRMENTSMemory loss comes in stages and Priority Life Care recognizes the importance of providing a program suitable for each stage of this difficult journey. Through the integration of senior-friendly tech, residents across a spectrum of cognitive abilities are encouraged to participate in their care by engaging daily.To ensure a successful transition into the residential community, our staff invites residents to bring familiar furnishings of home such as furniture, cherished items, and other domestic objects. This creates an inviting environment for the resident, which eases the initial discomfort of being in a new place.Residents will enjoy a structured daily plan that focuses on wellness and supporting independence, all while ensuring dignity and respect. This environment allows those with memory impairments to maintain functional abilities for as long as possible while remaining comfortable along their journey.Staff with specific dementia-centered training and experience support our residents with memory loss, including accommodations such as dietary oversight, assistance with medication, and general hygiene.

Nurturing Cognitive Health: Strategies to Maintain Independence and Quality of Life for Seniors

Cognitive health plays a pivotal role in maintaining independence, quality of life, and overall well-being for seniors. As we age, it becomes increasingly important to adopt strategies that promote brain health and preserve cognitive function. In this blog post, we will explore various approaches to nurturing cognitive health in seniors, including engaging in mental exercises, utilizing brain-training apps, adopting a healthy diet, and fostering social engagement. By incorporating these strategies into daily life, seniors can enhance their cognitive abilities, delay cognitive decline, and help them to lead fulfilling and independent lives.Engaging in Mental Exercises - Mental exercises are like workouts for the brain, helping to keep cognitive skills sharp and promoting neural connections. Seniors can engage in various activities that stimulate mental agility:         Solve puzzles such as crosswords, Sudoku, and word searches to enhance problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.         Play strategy games like chess or bridge to stimulate cognitive function and improve memory and concentration.         Learn a new skill or hobby, such as playing a musical instrument, painting, or dancing, to challenge the brain and promote neuroplasticity.         Read books, engage in stimulating discussions, and participate in book clubs to enhance comprehension, vocabulary, and cognitive flexibility.         Practice memorization, as in learning and reciting poetry or even memorizing lists, to help boost memory and recall abilities.Harnessing Brain-Training Apps - In the digital age, technology offers a wealth of brain-training apps specifically designed to promote cognitive health. These apps provide engaging activities that target memory, attention, problem-solving, and other cognitive skills. Some popular brain-training apps include:         Lumosity: Offers various brain games and exercises to improve memory, attention, and problem-solving abilities.         Elevate: Focuses on language skills, math, and analytical thinking through personalized training programs.         Peak: Provides a variety of brain games and puzzles to challenge memory, mental agility, and focus.         CogniFit: Offers scientifically validated cognitive assessments and personalized training programs for memory, attention, and other cognitive functions.Embracing a Healthy Diet - Nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting cognitive health. Seniors can incorporate the following dietary strategies to promote brain health:         Consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These nutrients provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support brain function.         Include omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds, as they are known to benefit cognitive health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.         Limit processed foods, sugary snacks, and saturated fats, which can contribute to inflammation and negatively impact cognitive function.         Stay hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water, as dehydration can impair cognitive abilities.         Consider incorporating brain-boosting foods that are rich in antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients into the diet such as blueberries, avocados, nuts, and dark chocolate.Fostering Social Engagement - Social engagement is not only essential for emotional well-being but also plays a significant role in maintaining cognitive health:         Stay connected with friends and family through regular social interactions, such as phone calls, visits, or participating in group activities.         Join community groups, clubs, or organizations based on personal interests to foster new social connections and engage in stimulating conversations.         Volunteer for community service or charitable organizations, as doing so can provide a sense of purpose, promote social connections, and stimulate cognitive function.         Participate in group fitness classes, dance classes, or sports activities, improving physical health and providing opportunities for social engagement.  

The Role of Superfoods, Vitamins, and Supplements in Preventing Dementia

Florida seniors and their families worry about memory, cognitive issues, and dementia. And rightly so.Columbia University research finds that 1 in 10 seniors over 65 have dementia, with another 22% having mild cognitive issues. Scientists are working hard to understand and treat dementia, with more than $3.7 billion being spent on Alzheimers, a type of dementia, in the US this year.But what can you do to help yourself and senior loved ones in the fight against dementia?Many studies focus on the science-backed advantages of superfoods, vitamins, and supplements in preventing dementia in seniors. And since many scientists agree that changes to the brain can start more than a decade before symptoms appear, it is never too soon to start eating healthy.At Florida Senior Consulting, we are devoted to assisting seniors in making informed choices about their health, including the latest information on dementia.Understanding Dementia and Its Risk FactorsDementia is a collective term that includes various cognitive disorders affecting memory, thought processes, and daily functioning. Its risk factors include age, genetics, unhealthy lifestyle choices, and specific medical conditions.What is Dementia, and How Does It Affect Seniors?Definition of DementiaDementia is not a single disease but a term that describes a group of symptoms affecting cognitive functions. These symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily activities and independent living.Impact on SeniorsFor seniors, dementia can be particularly debilitating as it impacts not just memory but also other cognitive functions like reasoning, planning, and communication. This often leads to a loss of independence, and as the disease progresses, more comprehensive care is needed. Dementia can also cause emotional and behavioral changes, affecting not just the individual but also their families and caregivers.Prevalence Among SeniorsThe risk of dementia increases with age. According to the Alzheimers Association, 1 in 9 people 65 and older has Alzheimers disease, a common form of dementia. By the time individuals reach the age of 85, the risk increases to nearly 1 in 3.Types of DementiaDementia is an umbrella term for various conditions, each affecting the brain differently. Here are some common types:Alzheimers Disease: The most common form, affecting 60-80% of dementia cases. It primarily impacts memory and thinking skills.Vascular Dementia: Often occurs after a stroke and affects problem-solving abilities.Lewy Body Dementia: Characterized by cognitive and motor symptoms and hallucinations.Frontotemporal Dementia: Affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, leading to changes in personality and behavior.Mixed Dementia: A combination of two or more types of dementia.Superfoods for Brain HealthBlueberriesLabeled as brain berries, blueberries are antioxidant-rich fruits that can reduce brain inflammation and oxidative stress, factors contributing to dementia. The flavonoids in blueberries also enhance memory and cognitive performance.TurmericTurmeric contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound. Curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier, offering potential neuroprotective effects that reduce dementia risk.Leafy Green VegetablesRich in vitamins C and E, folate, beta-carotene, and lutein, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli can lower the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.Fatty FishSalmon, mackerel, and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids vital for brain health. These fatty acids help reduce inflammation, improve blood circulation in the brain, and promote new brain cell growth.Vitamins for Brain HealthVitamin EThis potent antioxidant may reduce Alzheimers risk, one of the most common forms of dementia. It may also prevent the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, characteristic of Alzheimers.Vitamin B12Vital for nervous system functioning, adequate levels of Vitamin B12 can reduce cognitive decline and dementia risk. Seniors should aim for adequate B12 intake through diet or supplements.The Role of B Complex Vitamins, Especially Folic Acid, in Preventing DementiaFolic Acid and Cognitive HealthFolic acid helps break down homocysteine, an amino acid linked to cognitive decline and dementia. It also plays a significant role in DNA and RNA synthesis, necessary for brain cell function and repair.Research on Folic Acids Impact on Dementia RiskHigh folate levels have been linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimers, according to a study in the Journal of Alzheimers Disease. Another study in The Lancet suggested that folic acid supplements could decrease dementia risk.Food Sources of Folic AcidFoods like spinach, kale, and broccoli are excellent folic acid sources and should be included in seniors diets.SummaryWhile there is no definitive cure for dementia, emerging research suggests that specific superfoods, vitamins, and supplements may help in its prevention. Incorporating blueberries, turmeric, leafy greens, and fatty fish into your diet can be a powerful tool for brain health. Vitamins like Vitamin E, B12, and folic acid from the B Complex family have also shown promising results.Remember, these dietary additions should be a part of an overall healthy lifestyle and are not a substitute for a balanced diet. At Florida Senior Consulting, we remain committed to offering seniors the most accurate and helpful information for making informed healthcare choices.Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider for personalized medical advice.Dealing with Senior Loved Ones with DementiaManaging dementia can significantly challenge seniors, their families, and caregivers. By understanding these dementia behaviors and implementing the right strategies, we can provide more effective care and maintain the highest possible quality of life for our loved ones. However, deciding the best care options and senior living communities for your loved one with dementia can be overwhelming. Let us help.At Florida Senior Consulting, we work daily with seniors in all stages of life, from independent living to assisted living to aging at home and those needing memory care.We are a Florida-based company with expert knowledge of the Florida senior market, including memory care. While senior options and decisions can seem confusing, this is all we do. We have certified staff, professional nurse advocates, and decades of experience in the field.If you or a loved one is experiencing dementia-related behaviors, let us help you navigate these challenging waters. Senior living should be on your terms, and the choice should always be yours.Call us, and we will answer all your questions and help you decide what is best for you or your senior loved one.For peace of mind, call us at (800) 969-7176 or visit us at FloridaSeniorConsulting.com.

Local Services By This Author

BrightStar Care of Naples & Ft Myers

Home Health 28901 Trails Edge Blvd., Ste. 203, Bonita Springs, Florida, 34134

Local owner John Botsko has over 25 years of healthcare experience as a Hospital CEO as well as other Healthcare Executive positions. He was inspired to blend his skill sets and give back to the Ft. Myers and Naples communities by creating a company that raises the standard of in-home healthcare.BrightStar is accredited by the Joint Commission for Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO. We have also earned the distinction of the Enterprise Champion for Quality Award from the Joint Commission for the last 5 years in a row. (2013-2017). No other Home Care Agency in the country has been awarded this honor from the Joint Commission.This BrightStar Care agency won the Top Customer Satisfaction Award in 2017 out of all 300 BrightStar Agencies. BrightStar is committed to providing compassionate care and peace of mind to families and facilities throughout Lee and Collier counties. BrightStar serves patients of all ages, from newborn through end of life, whether its in their home, in any place of residence, or in any facility.

BrightStar Care of Naples & Ft. Myers

Non-Medical 28901 Trails Edge Blvd., Ste. 203, Bonita Springs, Florida, 34134

Local owner John Botsko has over 25 years of healthcare experience as a Hospital CEO as well as other Healthcare Executive positions. He was inspired to blend his skill sets and give back to the Ft. Myers and Naples communities by creating a company that raises the standard of in-home healthcare.BrightStar is accredited by the Joint Commission for Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO. We have also earned the distinction of the Enterprise Champion for Quality Award from the Joint Commission for the last 5 years in a row. (2013-2017). No other Home Care Agency in the country has been awarded this honor from the Joint Commission.This BrightStar Care agency won the Top Customer Satisfaction Award in 2017 out of all 300 BrightStar Agencies. BrightStar is committed to providing compassionate care and peace of mind to families and facilities throughout Lee and Collier counties. BrightStar serves patients of all ages, from newborn through end of life, whether its in their home, in any place of residence, or in any facility.