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Marjorie P. Lee Senior Living Blog

6 Mind-Bending Activities That Can Help Build Brain Health

Jan 29, 2015 9:41:36 AM

senior-doing-a-puzzleIs there any science behind the idea that brain games improve your memory? According to Scientific American the answer is yes— enriching your environment with mental stimulation will improve brain function. It makes sense that family members and caretakers would include some games as part of senior care, as well. Not all games are created equally, however, so let’s take look at some of the best games on the market that enhance mental acuity and memory by challenging the brain.

1. Good Old Fashion Crosswords

The days of waiting for the paper to come out, so you can get a new crossword are long gone. Today, seniors can find crossword puzzles 24/7 via the Internet. You can print them out or do them online. Crossword puzzles do more than just enhance memory; they expand your vocabulary and improve critical thinking processes, too.

Online game pages like Quizland have new crosswords daily. You can also check the local newspaper website or look at a national paper like USA Today for a crossword.

2. Sudoku

Sudoku is a math and logic puzzle in one. With this game, you must figure out how to fill each row and column with unique numbers in the square using just the digits one through nine. The more grids there are on the game board, the bigger the challenge.

Like crosswords, you can find sudoku puzzles just about anywhere. If a computer isn’t part of your senior care environment, you can find whole books of these popular number puzzles at just about any book or convenience store.

3. Happy Neuron

This is one game that gets rave reviews for its brain-training prowess. WebMD even suggests it as a brain fitness tool for the 50 and over crowd. Happy Neuron uses 28 different exercises to enhance brain function including:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Language
  • Visual/spatial skills
  • Logic

Happy Neuron was created by a team of French neuroscientists specifically to work the brain. There is clinical evidence that it does just that, too. Trial registration to the website is free, but you have to pay for a membership ($10 a month) to get full access to all the games and levels after seven days.

4. Scrabble

The online version is just as much fun as the board game. Scrabble forces you to dig deep into your memory to put together the words you didn’t even know you knew. Scrabble is available as an app for the savvy senior who uses a tablet computer or smartphone. You can also play online with your Facebook friends or try Scrabble Sprint from Pogo for more of a challenge.

5. Logic Puzzles

A grid logic puzzle tells a story then gives you clues. Players must use logic to methodically eliminate answers and solve the puzzle. For example, one puzzle might tell a story of five friends who went out for ice cream. The clues will explain who hates what flavor or how many dips two of the friends ordered. From that, you must determine who ate what type of ice cream and how many dips they had each.

Puzzlers Paradise offers online logic puzzles and updates the selection regularly. It might be better to print the puzzles out, however, and use a pencil because they can be pretty tough to crack.

6. Matching Games

If you want a puzzle that’s fun, but not altogether taxing, then an old-school matching puzzle might be the right brain-teaser for you. It still gives your brain a workout without all the bells and whistles. A matching puzzle can be a simple or complex as you want, but they’re always fun. Online games like Candy Crush can even be a little addicting.

Part of senior care and living well is finding a way to exercise the brain. Whether it is for yourself or someone you love, you are never too old to start enhancing your brain skills with a game or two.

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Bryan Reynolds

Written by: Bryan Reynolds

Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

Topics: living well, senior care

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