9 Types of Brain Games for the Elderly That Can Improve Mental Health

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Advancing age brings about physiological as well as psychological changes in the body. Often physical fitness takes precedence, and you end up overlooking mental health. You focus more on exercises to improve balance, physical activities to maintain smooth mobility, but nothing to stimulate the brain specifically. However, keeping your mind active is as important as maintaining physical fitness and strength.  

Researchers believe that the best way to keep your mind active is by following a brain-healthy lifestyle and performing regular targeted brain exercises that can increase the brain’s cognitive reserve. Moreover, seniors who perform mentally stimulating activities are 63% less likely to develop brain-related issues.   

Memory games for seniors challenge the grey cells and are an excellent way to improve mental health and brain functions. Playing games help in keeping the brain focused and alert. Moreover, it’s a light-hearted way to strengthen social interaction and a source of entertainment too! 

We have curated a list of 9 categories of brain games that will be fun and enhance your mental health.   

1. Puzzle, Tile, and Board Games:  

Board games or tabletop games are an amazing way to have fun. Age is no bar while playing these games. You can play them with friends, children or even your grandchildren. These sitting-down games are a good source of entertainment, especially for seniors with mobility issues. A few of the games often played are:  

  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Dominoes
  • Pictionary
  • Chess
  • Backgammon
  • Monopoly
  • Checkers 

2. Video Games:

Video games prove beneficial, particularly for those who are homebound. Additionally, they are an effective method to improve cognitive health. A few of the all-time favorites are;  

  • Candy Crush Saga  
  • Bejeweled
  • Plants v/s Zombies 
  • Super Mario
  •  Angry Birds
  • Solitaire 

The multi-dimensional nature of the games is what makes them attractive. You can play these electronic games for elderly people on smartphones, laptops and desktops. 

3. Card Games:

Invented during the Tang dynasty, around the 9th century, card games are a leisurely activity that can be fun-filled. They are portable, easy to hold and do not require any other equipment. One pack of cards can facilitate many games.  

 games for elderly people

 

  • Rummy 
  • Bridge  
  • Old Maid
  • Pinochle 
  • Spade, etc.  

Apart from the usual deck of cards, different kinds of card games like Uno, a number and color card game, and Lexicon, cards with alphabets are also available.   

4. Dice Games:  

Dice games are simple and can be a lot of fun. They are portable like a pack of cards, and you can enjoy them regardless of any age. The best thing about dice games and card games is that they stimulate the brain and can be fun. Some of the most popular dice games are:  

  • Bunco  
  • Mexico
  • Shut the Box
  • Yahtzee
  • Liar’s dice
  • Qwixx, etc.  
5. Word and Number Games:

A portion of every newspaper is always dedicated to word and number games. Word and number games like Sudoku and Crosswords are brilliant brain games for people of all ages and abilities. They improve your problem-solving skills, looking for number patterns and more. These games also provide a great sense of accomplishment and boost their confidence. Some of the most popular word and number games are: 

  • Crosswords 
  • Jumbled Words
  • Word Search  
  • Scrabble
  • Sodoku 
  • Kakuro 
  • Balderdash, etc.

 6. Indoor Games for Large Groups:

The pandemic has forced everyone to stay indoors. Moreover, having mobility issues and being homebound can lead to feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety development. Indoor games are a great way to build bonding between seniors living in nursing homes or assisted living communities. Most communities organize physical exercises that take care of the mobility aspects. Similarly, you can organize memory games for large groups. A few brain games that can quickly turn any party or evening into an enjoyable one are:  

  • Bingo/Housie/Tambola
  • Guess the Price
  • Year of Inventio
  • Chinese Whispers
  • Dumb Charades 
  • 20 Questions
  • Passing the Parcel, etc.  
7. Outdoor Games:

Lest we forget the importance, physical exercises and mobility workouts for seniors have proven benefits on mental health. Outdoor games that involve light to moderate physical activity are beneficial for overall well being. 

outdoor games for elderly people

  • Beach ball volley 
  • Lawn Bowling 
  • Badminton 
  • Frisbee
  • Flying Disc Target Toss 
  • Treasure Hunts, etc.   
8. Virtual Reality Games:

 outdoor games for elderly people

On the one hand, Virtual Reality (VR) exposure is a potential treatment for anxiety disorders, while on the other, it is an interesting way to experience a game. While there are not many options of mental health games and activities offering the VR experience, with a VR set, the seniors can enjoy trekking over Everest, going underwater, experiencing the first spaceflight to the moon, etc. The VR experience is an amazing way of stimulating the brain.   

9. Interest-based Games:

There is no limit to creativity! If the list above doesn’t seem sufficient, you can turn your interest and hobbies into exciting games. For example, if you are a shopping enthusiast, you can turn your shopping list into a fun memory game. Make a list of items you intend to buy, and after a few minutes, try to rewrite it. Play the tune of your favorite song and ask others to guess the song and the singer. You can do the same with movies, books, travel destinations, and the list is endless! 

Brain games aid seniors in achieving a better quality of life, allowing them to live independently for a longer time. Brain training may not prevent brain aging, but they help the brain stay healthy and alert. But while playing the above games, it is necessary to realize the importance of physical exercises too. A judicious combination of brain games and physical exercise can enhance the overall wellbeing of seniors. So, it is time to get your game together and move towards a smarter and more alert you!

 

FAQs

What is the Science Behind Brain-training Games?

As we physically age, our brain too faces aging-related issues. The ongoing physical, functional and chemical changes of the brain are known as neuroplasticity. Playing brain-training games is like rewiring the brain and allowing the neurons to work faster and more efficiently. Though there are contradicting views on the efficacy of brain training, many researchers believe in the benefits of brain games. 

Arguments suggest that the brain should be considered a muscle that can be exercised and toned. Studies prove that cognitive training results in improved cognitive abilities. This effect lasts for up to 5 years after the initiation of training. Albeit, the effects are seen only in specific activities.

What are the Benefits of Playing Dice Games for Seniors?

Dice games have been around for ages. Their ultra-portable size, simple dynamics, and low investment cost make dice games a popular choice. You can play them anywhere, where there is a flat surface. Versatile in nature, you can play these games alone or even with a large group, in a quiet or in a noisy place. Apart from being fun to play, the dice games subtly enhance a few skills. Games like ‘Shut the Box’ are mentally challenging, while ‘Yahtzee’ hones the strategy skills, or ‘Farkle’ is for those who like taking risks.  

Dice games are an excellent tool for: 

  • Promoting sportsman spirit 
  • Improving problem-solving skills 
  • Improving bonding and comradeship  
  • Enhancing social interaction and other social skills 
  • Stress relieving  
  • Promoting the feelings of achievement and competitiveness.

Vince Baiera

Vince Baiera is the founder of step2health, a mobility aids and wellness company for older adults. He is a former ICU Nurse of the Cleveland Clinic and Duke University Hospital in the Cardiac ICU. With years of working on the frontlines, Vince noticed the struggles of older adults and people with mobility issues that became an impediment for both patients and their caretakers. He then designed and created the patented product, Step2Bed (and its variants) that helps seniors and those with mobility issues safely get in and out of bed. His philosophy concerning aging is to plan ahead and start with simple home and life modifications to avoid being overwhelmed at retirement.

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