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, so regular workouts can help, but that’s just our physical body.
Memory games for seniors are one way to work on both cognitive function and dexterity. Our brains need this exercise as well, and brain health is essential to our longevity. Our memory can begin to fade, especially when we stop using it, and it can become harder and harder to remember and retain information. Luckily, brain activities can help strengthen the brain as a muscle and a tool.
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.
5 Fun Memory Games for Seniors
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 neuro pathways throughout the brain to boost brain health and cognitive function.
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!
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.
For more advanced seniors, sudoku puzzles are fantastic brain training games that can build brain cells, and varying levels of difficulty challenge 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.
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!