Physical activity and regular exercise are well-known ways to aid in living a long and healthy life. This becomes even more necessary as we get older and our bodies lose muscle and bone mass. Regular workouts can help, but that’s just our physical body.
Exercising our brains can go a long way in preserving our memory and fighting cognitive decline. Luckily, brain activities can help strengthen the brain as a muscle and a tool.
These games can help seniors:
- Boost cognitive skills, function, and dexterity
- Improve brain health and keeps the brain active
- Boost memory and help retain information
- Boost socialization skills
- Fight depression and anxiety
- Slow down the progression of memory issues
Playing memory and brain games can be an excellent way for seniors to exercise their minds in more ways than one. It’s a fun social activity and also gives their brains and memory the necessary exercise to maintain a healthy life. Here are some of the best memory games for seniors to boost energy and social interaction.
9 Fun Memory Games for Seniors
There are some great games for seniors to exercise both their mind and their dexterity.
1) Simon Says
This is a classic game that can be played with a group or just one other person. One person is the leader and gives instructions that the others must follow. The catch is that the instructions can only be followed if they start with “Simon says.” For example, “Simon says touch your nose.” All participants must touch their nose. If the “Simon” of the group says, “Touch your nose.” Participants should refrain!
Anyone who does touch their nose or make the action without hearing “Simon says” first, is out of the game! This game is great for social interactions, improving cognitive function, and working on memory issues.
2) Memory or The Matching Game
One of the simplest and most commonly used memory games is the memory card game. Sometimes it’s also called the matching game. To play this game, you can use either a regular deck of cards or purchase the memory game, which comes with a deck of cards with photos on each. The object of the game is to match all pairs in the deck until there are no cards left.
Play begins by shuffling the deck and laying every card face down on the table in random order. Keeping them in organized rows can help by keeping cards in the same spot every time. Then, one by one, the person will flip over two cards: if they match, those cards get taken away, and the following two cards can be flipped.
This can be a one-person game, but playing as a pair can be fun too. Keep flipping two cards at a time, looking for matches. This is a great way to exercise both motor skills and memory skills.
This “game” isn’t a game as much as it is an exercise to help train the brain to use both sides of the body and brain, which in turn helps improve memory and overall brain function. Switching it up means seniors should try to use their non-dominant hand or foot to do things.
If they always brush their teeth or hair with their right hand, try having them use their left hand. It can feel a little awkward at first, but these small physical actions with everyday tasks can build neural pathways throughout the brain to boost brain health and cognitive function.
4) Jigsaw Puzzles
Puzzles are a great way to build concentration and problem-solving skills. The more pieces, the more complicated the puzzle can be, and it not only keeps seniors engaged but really works out the brain and improves dexterity in the fingers and hands. Plus, it’s just fun to finally get that final piece laid down to complete the puzzle!
5) Music Therapy
People with dementia have been shown to be incredibly responsive to music therapy. The Mayo Clinic says that “musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease.” In fact, playing musical instruments throughout your life can actually reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s or dementia and helps keep the brain stay sharp and prevent memory loss.
Playing music for your residents, even for a short period of time each day, can boost that nostalgic feeling and provide them with something they can enjoy and potentially even remember the songs of their time.
6) Sudoku Puzzles
Sudoku puzzles are more advanced brain training games that can build brain cells and provide varying levels of difficulty for those looking for something a little more complex. Sudoku can be done online or in a paper book, but the way it works is a player is given a 9 x 9 square box where each row across, each row down, and each individual square must have numbers 1 through 9, with no repeats.
It sounds complicated, but it’s pretty easy to pick up even at an older age. And the easy-level games provide much of the numbers 1 through 9, and the player is left to fill in the blanks. It’s a fun activity to pass the time while also working on cognitive skills.
This classic game is a great way to get seniors to socialize while also working on their memory and focus. Bingo uses numbers, so it’s easy to follow along, and the added bonus of potentially winning a small prize at the end can be all the motivation some people need to play.
There are many variations of bingo, so find one that best suits your group. You can also use bingo to help teach other skills like colors, shapes, or fun facts.
Brainteasers are a great way to get those creative juices flowing while also working out the mind. They come in all different forms, from riddles to logic puzzles, and they can really help improve problem-solving skills, memory, and critical thinking.
For seniors, try to find brainteasers that are not too difficult but still provide a challenge. You don’t want people to get frustrated and give up, but you also want them to feel a sense of accomplishment when they complete the puzzle.
9) Wii Sports
While many elderly folks may not be as familiar with modern-day video games and technology for games, Wii Sports is actually incredibly user-friendly and makes for a great memory game for older individuals.
Wii by Nintendo is incredibly easy to set up and use, even for the most beginner gamer. Wii Sports, in particular, has games like bowling, golf, and other leisurely activities that can help with memory and coordination and helps people get up and move.
The Benefits of Memory Games for Seniors
Not only do memory games for seniors help improve memory, but it’s excellent for mental health. Small groups can play matching games, board games, or even take on trivia challenges. That social interaction alone can provide a great environment for those living in a senior living community and those struggling with memory loss or symptoms of dementia.
With a focus on memory care, the expert team of caregivers at Sunflower Communities provides an environment where individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or brain injuries can access helpful therapies to improve their quality of life and slow memory loss. For more information, reach out to us today!