Head Games

The studies are stacking up and the odds of staying mentally sharp well into old age are in favor of people who play games. For years now, we've heard reports that people who keep their brains active by regularly doing crossword or Sudoku puzzles, engaging in online exercises like those on Lumosity.com, or playing strategy games like bridge or chess can stave off the effects of dementia and other age-related memory loss. There is even evidence that brain training games can help reverse existing memory loss.​

We find a lot to get excited about when we hear this. Not only because we are interested in any idea that can help improve the lives and well-being of seniors, but also because it's just so simple and accessible. Games have an advantage over many other stay-young strategies because:

  • They are inexpensive -- unless, of course, you're playing for money, but that's a different story.
  • Most of them are relatively portable – you may not be able to set up a chess board in a doctor's waiting room, but you can bring a book of crossword puzzles, or even a deck of cards.
  • Almost anyone can play – many of our professional CAREGivers connect with their clients over games. It's also a great way for seniors to spend time with younger family members. Even players who are too young to read can enjoy games like UNO or Set.
  • They're fun!

There is no one-size-fits-all game that experts agree everyone should play. Rather, it's player's choice. People who like to get together in groups might enjoy a regular mahjong or bridge gathering. For proof that this is mentally stimulating, just think: the two wealthiest men in America, a baby boomer (Bill Gates) and a member of the greatest generation (Warren Buffett), make a point to get together whenever they can for bridge stand-offs.

Computer buffs might enjoy Lumosity or some of the millions of brain game apps that are available. They can even play Words With Friends or other online games with a loved one or buddy who lives in another state.

Puzzles, including crossword, Sudoku and 3-D puzzles like Rubik's Cubes are perfect for people who enjoy the flexibility of choosing to do a little bit at once or have a puzzle-solving marathon.

Games can be a broad term, too. Anything that engages the mind and fosters recall and retention can fit the bill. If traditional puzzles and games aren't your thing, perhaps a book club or video game will appeal. Even things like knitting, which helps maintain manual dexterity, can prevent cognitive decline.

For more information about improving the well-being of seniors, or to inquire about companionship from a professional CAREGiver, please contact us!


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