Having a good memory is important — after all, it helps make us who we are. We rely on our memory for everything from recollecting a fond childhood memory to remembering where we left our keys. Memory helps us do everyday tasks, like remembering how to work the TV remote to cooking our favorite meals. Our memory also helps provide us with a sense of self and a lifetime of experiences.
Forgetfulness is a normal part of aging, according to the National Institute on Aging, and memory problems become more common with age. Some folks have a memory issue, such as Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, that requires memory support services due to more significant, frequent lapses of memory. While other people have occasional trouble remembering where they put their cell phone, for example, or temporarily forget what day it is now and then.
Although, as previously stated, memory loss is a normal part of aging, it’s important to continue to do brain exercises for seniors, like memory games, to work your “memory muscles”. Why? Because just like how your body needs exercise to stay healthy, your brain needs a regular workout too.
What are Memory Games?
Memory games are fun activities that help improve your ability to retain information that you have recently learned, and to recall that information later.
Why Memory Games Are Beneficial
Researchers are still working to understand the full benefits of brain games when it comes to memory. A study of 221 people ages 60 to 90 found that older adults who learn new skills showed measurable improvements in their memory.
Some of the main benefits of memory exercises for seniors (or “brain games”) include:
- Brain exercises are designed to help sharpen your thinking skills. Playing a memory improvement game challenges your brain to help prevent memory problems and improve brain function – just 15 minutes a day is all it takes to improve the function of your brain.
- The social interaction of playing games can also help reduce isolation, stress, and depression.
- Memory games allow you to fully immerse yourself in the moment so you stay in the present.
- Brain exercise games can help you to learn new skills.
- Perhaps most importantly, games are so much fun that you will want to spend time playing them.
5 Types of Games That Can Help Improve Memory
Looking to improve your memory? Try the following senior brain games and exercises.
1. Crossword Puzzles
Crossword puzzles are excellent memory exercises for seniors that test your vocabulary and knowledge of art, science, and modern culture. You can choose to do crossword puzzles in a traditional format, such as the newspaper or paperback book, or opt for an online puzzle – either way, focus on challenging crossword puzzles that keep your brain engaged.
Chess is an intellectually challenging game that requires a good short-term memory to analyze the board and to create a strategy; a good memory of your opponent’s past moves helps you anticipate their next move.
You play sudoku on a grid of 9 x 9 spaces, which is further divided into nine squares of 3 x 3 spaces. You place a number from 1 to 9 in each of the spaces in such a way that you do not repeat any of the numbers within any row, column or square. Successfully completing the game requires you to keep a large quantity of numbers in your head while you mentally place them on the grid.
This old card game still works wonders when it comes to improving your memory. Simply lay any number of cards face down on a table; flip two up at a time to try to make a match of card suits or numbers. Make it more challenging by laying the cards out in a messier arrangement, which makes it harder to remember where the cards were.
5. Online Games for Memory
Several websites, such as Lumosity, offer games that can help you improve your memory. Other sites offer online versions of traditional games, such as AARP’s daily crossword puzzle, memory matching games similar to Concentration from Memozor, and Websudoko’s sudoku.
Exercises and Outdoor Activities Can Help Improve Memory for Seniors
Physical activities – especially those outdoors – can help boost your memory power.
Research shows that regular aerobic exercise that gets your heart pumping can actually increase the size of your hippocampus, which is the part of your brain responsible for verbal memory and learning. Exercising outdoors, even in the cold, can also improve your memory and attention.
Outdoor activities and exercises beneficial for memory include:
- Walking – research shows walking outdoors can improve short-term memory by as much as 20 percent
- Gardening – any gardening activity with low-to-moderate intensity, such as growing a vegetable garden, improves levels of memory-related proteins in the brain
- Day trips – going for a drive strengthens your memory by enticing you to recollect details of the last time you traveled, challenges you to chart your course, and stimulates your senses
Memory Care Services in Omaha
For more information about the best games and memory exercises for seniors, contact the memory support professionals at Ovation Heartwood Preserve.
Located within the Ovation Heartwood Preserve senior living community in Omaha, Nebraska, Ovation Connections™ Memory Care delivers safe, secure, and compassionate care that stimulates each resident’s mental focus, such as brain exercises for seniors.
The programs we offer for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia include:
- Aroma Connections
- Pet Connections
- Art Connections
- Tactile Connections
- Spiritual Connections
In addition to providing exceptional memory care options, Ovation Heartwood Preserve also offers independent living and assisted living, along with an array of services that help residents stay healthy, connected, and engaged.
Contact us for more details about our Omaha memory support services.