Research has shown that playing mentally stimulating games, such as problem-solving and memory games, can help seniors stave off dementia and promote brain health. In these studies, seniors who played games were shown to have better memories. They even had more mass in the sections of the brain where memories are stored. In short, finding effective cognitive games for seniors may be one of the best ways to slow down or lower their risk of developing dementia.
It’s worth noting that seniors who read also showed improved cognitive function. However, while reading did keep the brain active, card games and other activities provide chances for older adults to socialize. This can have a profound impact on their mental health, which is why these brain games are generally preferable to reading.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the three best cognitive games for seniors.
1. Word Searches Keep the Mind Active
While word searches may not seem like the most stimulating activities, they can do some good for aging brains. Because the process for solving a word search is to look at the “clue” of a few letters to find a word, this activity can help seniors sharpen their reasoning skills. Because seniors have to consider both the length of the word and its position, multiple parts of the brain are activated.
However, some seniors have a hard time with word searches. This is especially true for those suffering from dementia. In that case, caregivers can create their own word searches with shorter, simpler words. In some cases, this may improve brain function over time, at which point a senior could try harder word searches.
On the other end of the spectrum, some seniors may need a little extra challenge. If this sounds like your aging adult, try setting a time limit to make it harder for them. If your loved one is a little competitive, you could give them multiple word searches to compete with their friends.
Alternatively, you can give them larger, harder puzzles to solve. When your loved one can complete a large, difficult word search, you’ll know that their brain is in good shape. If they’re looking for something even harder, crossword puzzles especially challenge their cognitive abilities.
2. Jigsaw Puzzles Improve Cognitive Skills
The image of a senior working on a jigsaw puzzle is a little clichéd, but it’s still one of the best brain games for them. Why? First, it improves concentration. For many people (young adults and seniors alike), once they start a puzzle, it’s hard to stop until it’s finished. Since many seniors experience bouts of forgetfulness, keeping them focused on one task gives that part of their brains some exercise.
Beyond that, jigsaw puzzles have been found to improve hand-eye coordination, memory, and critical thinking. These are some of the key skills for daily life, and sadly, the skills that many seniors lose as they age. Fortunately, using jigsaw puzzles can slow down mental decline and give seniors extra years of mental activity.
Similar to word searches, though, you can and should make sure that the puzzle fits your senior’s cognitive abilities. This could mean scaling up the difficulty by using a larger puzzle with smaller pieces or reversing that for an easier puzzle. Additionally, get multiple seniors together to work on a jigsaw puzzle to help them build meaningful relationships with people their age.
3. A Memory Circle Can Improve Short and Long-Term Memory
This game requires a few seniors to participate, but it’s really one of the best ways to work on improving memory. Get everyone sitting in a circle, then have them each go around and recount one fond story or activity from their childhood. After everyone has shared their memory, the circle goes around again. But this time, everyone has to retell the story of someone else’s memory. This works especially well at an assisted living facility.
This is a great game because not only does it encourage socializing and sharing, but it also calls upon short and long-term recollection. Activating multiple sections of the brain helps seniors improve their overall memory. In this way, a memory circle can improve a senior’s ability to recall distant information and complete daily tasks.
Cognitive Games for Seniors Can Make All the Difference
They may not sound like much, but fun brain games like these can really improve a senior’s cognitive function. Try them out with your loved one and see what they like best. Everyone has different preferences. Perhaps it’s trivia games or board games or even video games. Whatever it is, encouraging the use of brain games for your senior is sure to benefit them.
We Can Help You
Port St. Lucie Hospital specializes in mental health services and is located on 20 acres near the beautiful Savannas Preserve. If you or one of your loved ones is struggling with an age-related cognitive decline, we can help. Our 24-hour mental health services are provided by licensed professionals in various disciplines. We tailor our programs to our patient’s needs and will help you every step of the way.
We welcome you to our facility. From support groups to individual therapy treatment options, we are here to fight the battle with you. Reach out to us online today. You can also call us at 772-335-0400.