There was a time when researchers believed brains were more like concrete than elastic. That has changed as the result of enhanced brain imaging, proving an active brain is a healthier brain. Thus, it’s important to prioritize cognitive exercises and memory games for seniors with dementia.
Games and activities that promote an active brain always yield positive benefits. While studies on Alzheimer’s games and their effects are inconclusive, researchers have proven mentally stimulating activities are linked to lower-risk or the delay of age-related memory loss – including Alzheimer’s.
Keep reading for some game ideas for seniors with dementia.
Crossword puzzles are a favorite for the young and older alike. Reverse engineering clever meanings or plays on words back to their origin word requires a range of different cognitive functions.
In addition to improving vocabulary, crossword puzzles often rely on a user’s long-term experience with regards to movies, music, politics, and a lifetime of pop culture references that spark memories.
Number puzzles, such as Sudoku, are for numbers what crossword puzzles are for words. They play on the brain’s memory and pattern recognition to solve challenges at varying levels. And, like crossword puzzles, sudoku grids and other number games are often found in daily newspapers and online.
You can also purchase books with memory games tailored to a user’s level. So as your loved one’s Alzheimer’s or dementia progresses, you can get simpler versions that continue to support brain activity without becoming so frustrating that the games are defeating.
Interactive games are a double-whammy when it comes to supporting age-related and diagnoses-based memory loss. Brain stimulation is essential, but social engagement and connection are even more important. Gathering with others to play cards, trivia games, or board games can check all the boxes.
Kimberly D. Mueller, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in communication sciences and disorders at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She was recently quoted by the Kansas Medical Center, saying, “We know that cognitive activity is good for the brain, social activity is good for the brain and for well-being, so pairing the two makes excellent sense.”
This is one of the reasons adults with dementia fare better in group settings than at home. The continual social interaction and daily activities – all of which focus on memory care – keep residents’ brains firing and connecting in ways they never would while living at home alone or with limited social networking.
Many brain games or memory exercises cited to support seniors are primarily devoted to the right brain, which uses linear, logical thinking. However, the left brain is equally important, connecting us to creative, big picture, and problem-solving outside of the box. Jigsaw puzzles are powerful memory tools because they support both right and left brain function.
Another bonus of jigsaw puzzles is that they can be worked on little by little over time You can also invite others into the mix adding a social aspect bonus! Place a puzzle on a table in a social hub or open area of any building and watch the people who come by to spend five to ten minutes – or longer – working to fit in a few pieces.
Did you think video games were a kid thing? Think again! More and more seniors are finding joy in playing games that keep them thinking and provide entertainment to boot. Video games are especially beneficial for those who live alone or are limited in their ability to get around.
Introducing stimuli-enriching video games to seniors is also a great way to support the connection between seniors and their younger family members. Instead of restricting a grandchild’s video game time, why not suggest a visit to Grandma or Grandpa to teach a favorite game and spend quality bonding time?
Online brain games and exercises are also available online. Lumosity is one of the most time-tested and popular “brain game” websites and is backed by more than 20 peer-reviewed publications in academic journals.
Lumosity’s games are intentionally designed by translating cognitive science into brain training games that support brain health for all ages. There are 60+ games designed to exercise memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem-solving. The program is accessible on computers and across the device spectrum, including senior-friendly tablets and phones.
Crafts and Artistic Endeavors
Like jigsaw puzzles, crafts, and other artistic endeavors (including musical pursuits) stimulate both hemispheres of the brain. A study published in the April 2015 edition of Neurology found that adults who pursue artistic, crafty, and social activities may stay mentally sharp longer.
The Memory Center makes a conscientious effort to weave arts, crafts, and other right-brained (creative) activities into our daily calendar. Creating art fires neurons that may sit idle in the reading and writing centers of the brain, allowing seniors with dementia to connect with their peers and family members in ways they may not be able to otherwise.
Caregiver Relief: An Unseen Benefit of Memory Games for Seniors With Dementia
One of the mostly-unspoken benefits of playing memory games for seniors with dementia is the joy and fun they bring to the table. Playing games with your aging spouse, parent, or grandparent alleviates caregiving pressures and allows you to connect and engage with your loved one on a different level. This can help you destress and enjoy a better quality of life.
Looking for a place where you can visit your loved ones and enjoy memory-focused activities? Or, would you like to find respite care that gives you the break you need while your loved one is well cared for and has access to activities that keep memory care at the forefront?
Connect with The Memory Center to learn more about what we have to offer. In addition to providing a high quality of life for adults with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related conditions, we do all we can to minimize stress and burnout for their family caregivers.
Learn more ways that, as a caregiver, you can take care of yourself!