Memory Games Promote Brain Health
Games aren't just for kids. Actually, certain types of games, including memory games, are very effective for the elderly.
Maintaining brain function in seniors is just as important as developing the brainpower of toddlers and young children. The brain never stops learning or retaining new facts. Even the aging brain continues to produce and maintain healthy brain cells.
Seniors affected by stroke, dementia or other neurodegenerative damage to the brain can recover some function and cognitive abilities by retraining the brain. Actually, the brain is capable of bypassing damaged areas caused by stroke or traumatic brain injury. Like any other organ in the body, the brain needs exercise and optimal flow of nutrients, oxygen and blood to function. Diet can often take care of that, but games and activities that engage cognitive thinking, reasoning and problem solving skills are also extremely beneficial to the aging brain.
Memory games can help you retain more information and process that information faster. These games help memory improvement and lengthen attention spans, focus, and concentration. Many of us lose interest in games as we get busy with jobs, responsibilities, and other demands.
As we age, we're content to do our job, but many of us don't have the opportunity to enjoy a lot of down time. Before you know it, we're entering (or in) our senior years, and starting to forget things.
Many seniors' exposure to math is relegated to balancing a checkbook, but when was the last time Mom or Dad actively engaged their reasoning skills in a mathematical word problem or puzzle? The brain grows through information. If you don't offer the brain new information or exposure to new things, it's going to stagnate. This doesn't mean that your brain will die, but it won't grow either.
Challenge your brain to learn new skills and your brain function will improve. For example, challenge your brain to learn new skills that involve all your senses, including your tactile senses. For example, take up coloring pages, watercolor or painting, knitting, or learn how to make fishhooks. This promotes corresponding activities between the brain and the physical movement of fingers or hands that are beneficial not only to your physical health, but for your mental and emotional health as well.
In some cases, you may have to convince Mom or Dad to play games. Some seniors think games are only for the idle or for children, but encourage them to play brain games for their overall mental health and wellness.
Brain training programs and games help prevent distraction and depression. Let them know that even older or aging brains are perfectly capable of growing new and stronger neural connections.
Choose fun games that Mom or Dad may enjoy. Start simple with games such as Bingo, card games like poker or bridge, and suggest games like Monopoly, which require more than just rolling and ice and moving a playing piece. Choose games, such as Monopoly, that require math skills when "purchasing" real estate or those that involve vocabulary skills such as Scrabble. Cross-train the brain, play a different game every day, and always striving to make such games fun and interesting.
Solitary games such as Mahjong, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, hidden phrases, and word search games are also activities for memory improvement and may promote recollections long forgotten.
Brain games can be played anywhere: in the home, in a nursing facility, or while driving Mom or Dad to their doctors' visits. For example, when driving, challenge Mom to name all the flowers she sees, or, if you live in a rural area, ask Dad to look for hawks, falcons, ducks or geese (and name them if he can). If Mom or Dad has access to a computer, suggest online memory games, which are available free and provide hours of enjoyment.
At home, challenge Mom or Dad to name all the state capitals, states, or national monuments or parks they've visited. Your imagination and creativity is the only limit to creating dozens of memory and brain boosting activities for Mom or Dad or other elderly relative. Such activities not only benefit the senior, but also encourage sociability, interaction, and bonding, which helps decrease feelings of isolation and depression.