Brain Games - Finding the Right Game for Mom
Finding the Right Game for Mom
When most people think seriously about cognitive ability, or about the declining cognitive ability of a senior, the last thing they think about is playing games. However, games are one of the most effective types of activities that seniors can engage in that may help improve brain function, cognitive abilities, memory, and attention to detail.
Brain Games Boost Mental Acuity
Games engage the brain. Any time the brain is thinking it's receiving signals between brain cells that develop instructions that cause a person to respond. For example, take Bingo. Mom hears the Bingo number called, uses her visual acuity and memory to find the number on her Bingo card, and then uses her tactile ability when she picks up her marker and places the marker on the correct number on the Bingo card. This is a very simplistic definition of how the brain engages a number of senses and activities at the same time, but an effective one.
The same type of brain activities required in most games, and making them fun, offers even greater emotional and mental benefits. The most common games seniors can enjoy include puzzles such as crosswords, word search, and hidden phrases. These types of puzzles encourage memory and thinking processes.
Tactile games, or those which involve movement, touch or other sensations are also beneficial. Card games and board games where seniors are required to shuffle a deck of cards, shake the dice, or move markers also engages areas of the brain that help plan strategy, to reason, and to recognize.
Finding the Right Game for Mom
Not all brain games are created equal. For example, if Mom has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, some games may not be suitable and may only provoke impatience and frustration. For individuals diagnosed with dementia, keep things as simple yet as fun as possible.
Simple memory games may help boost brain function, even in those diagnosed with dementia. For example, place two separate pictures, photographs or images in front of someone with dementia and help them to remember the name of that object.
The objects themselves may evoke memories. Encourage those memories. For an additional challenge, ask Mom or Dad to identify one object out of several photographs.
Choose photographs or images of activities your parent used to enjoy. For example, if Mom was an avid gardener, place a picture of a daisy, a gardenia, and a rose in front of are. Ask her to identify them. Dad, who may have loved fishing, may find a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction by naming different types of fish in a row of photographs.
The key to playing brain games with those with dementia is to keep it simple. You don't want to frustrate or confuse your parent, but each individual case will be different. You be the judge of what they can or cannot do and cater games to their current cognitive ability. The goal is to provide them with some enjoyment and evoke memories or discussion. Remember, some days will be better than others will, so don't get discouraged.
Group games, such as those performed in assisted living or long-term care facilities are a great way to involve seniors with physical, occupational or speech therapy, make friends, socialize, and laugh. Adapt brain games to the abilities of everyone in the group. For example, games like the aforementioned Bingo or movement games such as Simon Says can be adapted to seated individuals. The imagination is the only limit when it comes to determining what types of games can benefit seniors with brain function disabilities, memory loss, or other conditions that involve the neural pathways.
Catering To the Senior
If you're looking for games that will not only promote memory, focus, reasoning and cognitive function, don't leave the senior out of the planning process. Whenever possible, ask seniors themselves what they would like to do. Their answers may amaze you.
Most importantly, games need to be fun and engage as many of the senses as possible in order to provide the benefits of enhanced brain function and exercise. The brain, just like any other organ in the body, needs to be healthy and exercised as well as stimulated to engage and function. You know the old saying, "Use it or lose it." That goes for the brain too.
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