Memory games are a great way for seniors to exercise their minds. However, it's sometimes hard to find a memory game that a senior will enjoy enough to keep playing over time. To achieve the best brain-boosting results, it's important that they play a variety of brain training games and do so consistently.
With that in mind, we've rounded up 5 of the top memory games for aging adults:
Lumosity, an online subscription program, offers a limited free version to try before buying. The paid version offers more brain training games and the opportunity to switch games if you don't enjoy one in your daily rotation. You can also make a 'favorite games' list and play your favorite fun games whenever you want.
Besides memory, game categories include attention, flexibility, language, problem solving, and speed. There are a variety of interesting games in each category and tutorials to walk a player through each new game. The program also keeps track of how well you're doing in each category.
2. Keep Your Brain Alive
Manning Rubin and Dr. Lawrence C. Katz, professor of neurobiology at Duke University, wrote a book called "Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness." They outline exercises in this book based on scientific research to help seniors improve their memory. The exercises can help the brain naturally produce neurotrophins, which help fight the effects of mental aging.
These 'brain aerobics' involve using all your senses in different ways, such as using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth. These exercises use the whole brain in a unique way. You can think of them as a type of fertilizer for your brain to develop healthy connections.
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3. Word Puzzles
Word games for seniors, like crosswords, can help with memory retention. The challenge of a puzzle helps the brain form and maintain connections. In fact, crossword puzzles involve the left and the right side of the brain. Word games for seniors also invoke logical reasoning. Crossword puzzles also help seniors learn new words and recall vocabulary terms.
Doing a crossword puzzle can promote relaxation that can be therapeutic and calming, especially during a busy week. Seniors don't have to complete crossword puzzles alone either! They can be a fun activity for the family to complete together or for a group of seniors to bond over.
Sudoku is a popular pencil puzzle. It requires you to use problem-solving skills in a fun, easy to learn the way. Sudoku is available on just about any digital platform and traditional paper. Plus, you can play it online.
But what makes this game so good for your brain health? Sudoku requires logic and memory skills, which pushes the brain to make connections. Strategic thinking also helps you improve your concentration and ability to make decisions in a short period of time. Plus, when you finish the puzzle correctly, there's a feeling of pride and accomplishment.
Sudoku isn't the only game that can help older adults build their memory. Other popular pencil puzzles, like crosswords and word searches, can also keep your memory sharp.
This perennially popular board game is always fun to play with grandchildren. You can improvise a version of Concentration with a deck of cards as explained in this video (which also includes a couple of other simple memory-boosting activities for seniors).
The key to boosting memory with any of these games is to play every day. As brain researcher Paul Laurienti, M.D., Ph.D. said: "We used to think that with age, brain cells shriveled up, died, and that was that. Now we know that even older brains can grow new, stronger connections."