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Brain Games for Seniors: How to Help Residents Improve Memory

Engagement November 26, 2020

Senior living communities can support their residents’ mental fitness by providing them with digital brain games built for seniors. These brain game puzzles and memory exercises are an easy and engaging way for residents to support their mental dexterity and keep their brains sharp.

What Are Brain Games for Seniors?

As their name suggests, brain games are simply any mental activity that stimulates a deep thought process. It forces a person to wrestle with an idea, ruminate deeply, or work something out in their mind. Examples of a brain game include:

  • Chess
  • Bridge
  • Go
  • Puzzles
  • Sudoku
  • Crosswords
  • Brain teasers
  • Riddles
  • Logic puzzles  
  • Painting & coloring

These mental diversions can range from easy to extremely challenging. This range of difficulty ensures that every older adult living in your senior care facility can find something that is fun rather than simply frustrating.

An important part of senior brain games is that they encourage progression. A resident may start at a beginner level and increase difficulty as they go. Just like a weight lifter increases weight as strength improves, an increasing level of difficulty keeps residents engaged and challenged while honing their cognitive skills.

Why Are Brain Games Important for Aging Adults?

With group activities being restricted, communities and residents alike have been forced to find new ways to challenge residents’ brains and satisfy the need for connected engagement. Many have discovered that digital brain games are the solution, helping combat isolation, depression, and loneliness.

Digital brain games do this in one of two ways: 

  1. An aging adult can stay engaged independently.
  2. Games make it possible for residents to play virtually against another resident, family member, or friend—from the comfort and safety of their apartments or living spaces.  

What is the Science Behind Brain Games?  

There is concrete evidence that brain games for seniors can help sharpen certain types of thinking skills that often fade with age. According to Harvard Health, a 2016 study from the International Psychogeriatrics demonstrated that games can help with:

  • Processing speed
  • Planning skills
  • Reaction time
  • Decision making
  • Short-term memory

Similarly, a 2014 study from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society studied whether cognitive training on cognitive abilities and every day functions over the space of 10 years had a positive impact on neurological decline. It concluded that:

“Each Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly cognitive intervention resulted in less decline in self‐reported IADL compared with the control group. Reasoning and speed, but not memory, training resulted in improved targeted cognitive abilities for 10 years.”

This and other studies seem to suggest that games can be more than just a simple diversion. In fact, they can make a significant impact on the resident’s mental health and acuity.  

How Senior Living Communities Can Support Their Residents Through Games 

Keeping residents engaged and their brains stimulated has always been important. But now, it’s more important than ever. An older adult living in a senior care facility needs brain training activities to keep them stimulated and improve cognitive function.

Senior living communities need to surround their residents with technologies that allow them to stay entertained and engaged with their friends and families, even if they can’t interact with them in person. 

Whether it’s through a trivia game, card game, brain teaser, or puzzle, all senior residents can benefit from a fun brain game. By providing your seniors with digital games—particularly games that were purposefully designed to train the brain—you can continuously support their mental health.

Sources:

  1. NCBI. Participation in cognitively-stimulating activities is associated with brain structure and cognitive function in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4417099/
  2. Pub Med. Association of lifetime cognitive engagement and low β-amyloid deposition. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22271235/
  3. Pub Med. Effect of lifestyle activities on Alzheimer disease biomarkers and cognition. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23280791/
  4. Harvard Health. The thinking on brain games. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/the-thinking-on-brain-games
  5. Wiley Online Library. Ten‐Year Effects of the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly Cognitive Training Trial on Cognition and Everyday Functioning in Older Adults. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jgs.12607