Parsons House in Omaha uses brain games for our seniors with dementia. It’s important to know that Dementia is a progressive brain disease that affects millions of people in just the United States. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
If you have a loved one who is suffering cognitively, there are a number of brain games for seniors that could help. Keep reading to learn more.
How Dementia Affects the Brain
Doctors and other medical professionals classify the severity of dementia by impairment level. Those levels include the following:
- No impairment. The patient does not show any symptoms, but tests can indicate a problem.
- Very mild decline. A patient’s behaviors may begin to change, but they will generally retain their independence.
- Mild decline. Thinking and reasoning are affected, so patients may have a hard time recalling recent events and may repeat themselves often.
- Moderate decline. It will be harder to make plans, remember events, travel, and handle finances.
- Moderately severe decline. The patient may not remember basic information like the day of the week or their phone number, and they may need assistance with daily functions.
- Severe decline. A severe decline involves forgetting the names of close loved ones and needing help eating and going to the restroom.
- Very severe decline. At this stage, a patient can no longer walk or speak, which means they will spend most of their time in bed.
The stages of dementia and how they progress are different for every patient. Your loved one’s doctor may recommend certain treatments or admission into a nursing home facility, depending on the situation. You may feel helpless, but there are brain games for seniors with dementia that can help.
The Best Brain Games for Seniors
There are limitless games for adults with dementia, but it’s important to find the games that meet your loved one’s needs and interests. Keep reading to learn about the best mental exercises for seniors with dementia.
Crossword puzzles are available in book form and online. Depending on their cognitive abilities, your loved one may be able to complete one puzzle a week or even one per day. Thinking up solutions to the word clues can prompt memories and encourage skillful thinking.
Lumosity is an online program that offers more than 60 cognitive games. This brain-training program provides games that focus on memory, problem-solving, speed, and flexibility.
While there is a free version of the game, there is a subscription-based version as well. The benefit, particularly for patients with dementia, with the subscription-based plan is the in-depth insights on performance.
Bingo may seem simple and common, but the game actually stimulates different senses, including hearing, touch, and sight. Players need to listen for the numbers being called, use pens or markers to mark the cards and understand the numbers on their cards.
Logic puzzles help us with nontraditional, out-of-the-box thinking. Not only can they test a person’s ability to use the information they’re given, but they can help create solid memories and solutions. Logic puzzles are useful for individuals with dementia because they enable lateral thinking.
Jigsaw puzzles engage the left and right sides of the brain. This means that not only is a person’s creative side engaged, but they have to use logic to put the pieces together as well.
In addition to activating both sides of the brain, jigsaw puzzles can improve visuospatial functioning and provide people with social interaction, especially in long-term care facility settings.
Sudoku is a number game that is played on a 9×9 grid. Players need to observe the prefilled spaces and fill in the empty cells with numbers one through nine. Numbers cannot be duplicated in individual rows, columns, or regions.
Sudoku can be played on paper or a device like a tablet. The puzzle promotes logic, as well as memory.
Trivia can be a group activity or a solo game. Depending on your loved one’s interests, you could tailor the questions to topics they already know well. If they’re looking for a challenge, you could ask questions about current events or history.
In addition to being an uplifting game, trivia also stimulates the mind and may be able to help with memory and recall.
Chess and Checkers
Chess and checkers are often overlooked, but both games can improve mental wellbeing and brain health. Both games, which have different degrees of difficulty, are about strategy and planning ahead. They can be played on a traditional game board with pieces or online.
Scrabble requires players to use logical thinking and strategy to construct words as if they are creating a crossword puzzle.
The traditional board game can be found at most big box stores, and there are also digital versions of the game that can be downloaded onto phones or tablets.
Simon, based on the game Simon Says, is played on an electronic disc. The disc has four colored buttons that each play a different sound when pressed. To win the game, you have to reproduce random sequences of lights and sounds.
Learn More About Caring for Your Loved One
A dementia diagnosis can be hard to cope with, which is why it’s crucial to ensure your loved one has access to the care they need to live a high-quality life for as long as possible.
While dementia is a progressive illness, the brain games for seniors discussed above can help your loved one slow down the progression of their symptoms. To learn more about caring for someone with dementia, click here. We’ve also found the Alzheimer’s Association of Nebraska as a terrific resource for those families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.