5 Games that Help Seniors Keep a Sharp Mind


Dementia is a broad term for a variety of degenerative brain diseases. Diseases that fall under the category of dementia are often long-term and result in a gradual decrease in a person's ability to think or recall memories. The impaired ability to think and remember affects a person's ability to function in daily tasks.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and is characterized by short-term memory loss. Alzheimer's patients typically have difficulty remembering recent events. Additionally, they may be prone to mood swings, become easily disoriented with their surroundings, and may have difficulties with language. The cause of the disease is not fully understood but experts believe it is largely genetic and have linked many genes to its cause. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, receiving concussions or other head traumas, and a history of depression.

Alzheimer's is very uncommon in people under the age of 65. Seniors are the group that are most at risk. Fortunately, there are some precautions that can delay the onset of the disease as well as mitigate the symptoms experienced. Many people can experience improved symptoms by regularly playing brain games. Numerous studies have shown that brain games can also delay the exhibition of symptoms. By incorporating brain games into home caregiving, affected seniors can potentially slow the progression of dementia.

5 Games that Help Seniors with Dementia

Sudoku

One of the most popular brain games for seniors is Sudoku. Sudoku is a mathematical puzzle that requires logic and problem solving skills to complete. A game of Sudoku involves a 9 x 9 grid that is divided into nine 3 x 3 grids that must be filled with digits. The goal is to fill each column, row and 3 x 3 sub-grid with digits 1 through 9. Each digit can only appear once in a column, row or sub-grid. Sudoku is helpful for seniors because it exercises short-term memory as well as logic. Players must hold sequences of numbers in their short-term memory so as not to repeat a digit. They must also think about digit placement in an attempt to avoid creating situations where a duplicate integer might appear.

Crossword Puzzles

Another popular type of brain game is the crossword puzzle. Players are given a set of overlapping labeled boxes with each set intended for a word. Next to the box-sets is a listing of definitions and the box number the definition corresponds to. Crossword puzzles are great for seniors because it requires them to recall words in their long-term memory, as well as storing their location in short-term memory. Crossword puzzles are also a fun way to expand vocabulary! While not inherently meant for multiple players, crossword puzzles are a great way for a home caregiver to cooperatively play along with the seniors in their care.

Matching Games

Matching games involve any game where cards are hidden from view and players must select two cards at a time to see if they are the same. There are a variety of ways to play matching games and many can be played with two or more people. Matching games are effective because they force players to store many pieces of information in their short-term memory simultaneously. As an added plus, home caregivers can easily participate with their seniors in matching games.

Rubik's Cubes

The Rubik's Cube puzzle is another great puzzle for a home caregiver to try with seniors. The Rubik's Cube is a three dimensional puzzle block that is composed of 26 smaller blocks. The blocks can be one of any six colors and start scrambled. The goal is to unscramble the blocks by manipulating the blocks of the cube until all six sides are a solid color. The Rubik's Cube puzzle can be helpful for seniors because it requires players to track in short-term memory where the blocks are. The three dimensional nature of the puzzle also helps improve spatial reasoning.

Chess

The classic game of Chess is another game associated with strong mental health. Chess is a game in which players must think and plan many moves ahead of time. Chess is especially great for seniors because their home caregiver may play along. Another reason Chess is well suited for home care, is because while it is a somewhat complex game, it is also very common; most people have been exposed to it at some point in their life. Chess takes place on an 8 x 8 board. Each player begins with 16 pieces that occupy 16 spaces on their side of the board. There are six types of pieces that may all move in different ways and distances. Each player may move one piece per turn. The objective of the game is to pin the opposing player's king piece so that it is in the path of one of your pieces, and may also not make any movements that wouldn't put it into the path of your pieces.

Brain Games can Improve Quality of Life

Home caregiving can benefit from the inclusion of brain games in a home care plan because they can stimulate improved cognitive function. In addition to the cognitive benefits, brain games can be a fun activity for home caregivers and the seniors in their care. Ultimately, brain games serve as an excellent way to slow the effects of neurologically degenerative diseases through a holistic approach rather than a purely physiological approach.

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