As we grow older, memory skills and cognitive functioning become real issues. While speech therapy and occupational therapy are crucial, there’s something you can do between sessions to keep your brain active. It’s fun and you can do it either by yourself or with someone else, whether you live at home or in a retirement facility. You can play games!
According to Pennsylvania State University’s Dr. Sherry L. Willis, brain exercises that involve reasoning skills really do improve cognitive function over time. The brain is like any other muscle in your body: if you don’t use it, it will get out of shape. Here’s a list of five great games for memory care and cognitive functioning. Enjoy!
Scrabble is a great game for word memory and retrieval, and it has the added benefits of top-notch social interaction. Since every word you manage to place is an achievement, your brain will be releasing a lot of endorphins which in turn will lead you to feeling really good. As if that weren’t enough, Scrabble is a low-pressure, calm board game, so it’s great for your blood pressure, too.
This popular Japanese logic game involves memory skills and lots of critical thinking. A big advantage is that there’s not a lot of writing involved – only numbers – so people who find writing difficult can still enjoy it. Play it by yourself or with a friend, and experiment with different difficulty levels until you find one you like. If the Sudoku puzzle books are too bulky, try an electronic version.
According to researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, playing chess stimulates the brain so much it combats the symptoms of dementia. Since planning skills and strategic thinking are crucial to the game, it gives you the opportunity to exercise these skills which you might be using less than you used to, especially if you’re living in an assisted living or skilled nursing environment. Live alone? No problem. Play electronic or online chess. You won’t get the social interaction, but you’ll get everything else.
These are a favorite and for good reason. Besides being fun and relaxing, crossword puzzles boost word retrieval and memory skills. They also improve your ability to draw associations and enhance your vocabulary. If writing is difficult or tiring, play them online.
According to Sanesco Health – an industry leader in neurotransmitter testing – jigsaw puzzles exercise both sides of the brain, since you need to use both linear thinking and creative thinking at the same time. They exercise your visual-spatial skills and reinforce the connections in your brain which has a positive effect on short-term memory. They can be played solo, in a group and with people of all ages. And you’re left with something beautiful for your room when you’re done!
Are there games you like to play to keep your memory skills going? Please let us know in the comments below!