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Brain Games: How They Improve Cognitive Health

Senior Playing Crossword Puzzle.
By Written by Clare Quirin at Senior Living Experts, Homewatch CareGivers of Lockport Partner Edited by Brynn Beaton, Homewatch CareGivers of Lockport Marketing Intern

As seniors age, the structure of their brain changes and it can impact their cognitive health. Seniors can keep their memory sharp by maintaining their cognitive health. One of the ways to do that is by playing brain games, such as crossword puzzles. A variety of brain game apps, websites, and books are available for free, or to purchase.

Crossword puzzles and Sudoku: how do they help cognitive function?

A study conducted by the University of Exeter and King’s College London found that if adults over the age of 50 play brain games frequently, it will result in improved cognitive health. Scientists found evidence of improved memory, attention, and reasoning in these older adults. Although this study did not prove that brain games can help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s, it did demonstrate that brain games can help keep senior brains healthier for a longer amount of time.

Another article written by LifeHack delves into the idea of completing crossword puzzles in a group setting, and how this can benefit the brain even more than doing it alone. This is due to a concept called collaborative cruciverbalism, which is a strategic way to think creatively. Completing a crossword puzzle with other people, without the help of technology, is the most beneficial way of completing these puzzles if you are looking to improve cognitive health.

How else do brain games help?

Aside from improving cognitive health, there are a multitude of other reasons why you should consider completing crossword puzzles as a part of your weekly (or daily) routine:

Improved mood

Completing brain games can also improve your mood. Completing crossword puzzles, or any other brain game can leave you feeling accomplished, which leads your body to produce extra dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that functions as the rewarding sensation, playing a role with memory, movement, and motivation.

Alloting time in your schedule to play brain games will also prevent you from feeling bored. It is a simple way to fill your time and improve your brain health at the same time. For those who are interested in smaller crossword puzzles that they can complete once a day, we recommend the NY Times Daily Mini Crossword.

Other ways to exercise your brain

Although crosswords and Sudoku are fun puzzles to complete, there are plenty of other ways to practice your cognitive skills:

  • Trivia
  • Arts and crafts
  • Bingo
  • Practicing a new language
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Reading chapter books

These are some of our favorite brain games, however, there are so much more! If you know of a loved one who would enjoy or benefit from brain games, consider purchasing a book for them to use throughout the week. Puzzles, arts, and crafts are also great ways for you to plan activities with your loved ones when you go to visit them.

Tray games

One of our other favorite brain games is the tray game, which consists of placing random items on a tray and having the senior study it for 2 minutes. Then, take the tray away and have the senior write down as many items as they can remember. The items on the tray can follow a theme, or they can be completely random items from around the house. This is a fun and easy way to engage with your loved one, and have them exercise their brain health at the same time!

The advisors at Senior Living Experts encourage seniors to practice brain games throughout the week in order to improve their cognitive skills. If you have any questions about senior living, reach out to their advisors at www.seniorlivingexperts.com or call them at (773) 231-7212.

Here at Homewatch CareGivers, we highly value information and activities for seniors to enrich our elder care services. The services we offer in the Lockport, Bolingbrook, and Plainfield communities are geared toward making everyday activities smoother during the aging process. For more information about how Homewatch can assist you and your loved ones, click here.

Photo Source - Senior Playing Crossword Puzzle.