5 Must-Try Memory Games to Prevent Cognitive Decline

What’s the big deal about memory games? Games that encourage the use of memory can help keep your mind sharp and very possibly assist in warding off cognitive decline in some cases. As a person ages, it’s only natural their memory begins to fade a bit.

Memory Games

Whether you reside in an independent living community, assisted living community, with your grown children, or on your own in a house or apartment, it’s important to keep your mind as sharp as possible as you age.

Brain exercises consisting of certain types of memory games are something most everyone can partake in at some level. What’s more, if you get together with others to play these games, a healthy level of socialization is also better maintained. Very often, as people age, friends fall away, and many lose touch with some family members. It’s important to socialize on a regular basis in your golden years.

Cognitive decline, however, can also be severe in cases of Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc.

These are progressive conditions that can start off slowly but, before you know it, may snowball into something that is hard to manage – both for the person involved and their family. Why not keep your mind as sharp as possible for as long as possible? Especially when it’s something fun and easy to do!

Let’s look at some games to exercise the mind, utilize the memory, and may actually help discourage cognitive decline.

5 Effective Must-Try Memory Games to Prevent Cognitive Decline

1. Crossword Puzzles

It is thought by numerous researchers that crossword puzzles possess “protective powers.”

How so?

You may be better protected against dementia’s impact by the development of a type of cognitive reserve courtesy of crossword puzzles. This helps an individual to maintain possession and use of their cognitive abilities for as long as possible because it makes new and stronger connections within the brain itself.

One of the best characteristics of crossword puzzles is that they come in a vast array of levels of “difficulty.” There are extremely easy crossword puzzles that, though still important for memory exercise, are exceptionally simple to figure out. There are crossword puzzles that rival the New York Times, and there are crossword puzzles that cover every level in between.

There are also some variations to crossword puzzles that can change things up a bit, such as word games and fill in the blank, but still serve the same purpose.

2. Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles provide more than just exercise for your memory. They can improve visual spatial reasoning and cognition. Problem solving, short-term memory, and concentration are all required when piecing together a jigsaw puzzle.

To improve short-term memory, enhance mental speed, and reinforce brain cell connections, puzzles are invaluable. Technically speaking, the production of a chemical that regulates concentration, memory, and mood – dopamine – increases when you do a puzzle. Doing one with a friend is even better.

3. Video Games That Involve Multitasking

You may not automatically think of video games when listing the best pastimes for boosting memory. Truth be told, however, particularly when multitasking is involved, video games are a good way to improve your cognitive abilities or hold onto them for as long as possible.

Here’s why: Researchers have discovered that strengthened brain networking and increased gray matter volume have been associated with playing action video games. This kind of activity is linked with multisensory temporal processing abilities, hand/eye coordination, decision-making, memory encoding and retrieval, problem-solving, and other high order functions.

4. Chess

Referred to as a “gentlemen’s sport” (in addition to golf), chess is a game to be shared among aficionados of the pastime. It is not, however, a particularly easy undertaking.

A lot of memory goes into playing chess. Any mistakes or missteps you made in the past must be avoided, your opponent’s playing style should be remembered (if you’ve played them before), all the complicated moves each chess piece can make, and more all call for the use of memory.

Though not everyone knows how to play chess, it’s a great game to learn if you like to strategize and want to improve your cognitive skills. 

If you reside in a senior living community, why not set up a chess club?

You can visit each other’s private residences, each taking turns hosting a group. You can also set up in one of the many common areas, or possibly a game room setting, should your community be equipped with an area.

This is not only a good opportunity for brain exercise, but for socialisation. Very often, as a person ages, they experience loneliness due to friends and family falling away. Getting together once a week, or as often as you like, encourages socialisation among people who have similar interests – such as chess.

5. Sudoku

Specific numbers must be placed in certain places in a game referred to as Sudoku. In order to win, you need to remember what to do with the numbers, where they go, and how they work together. It can be compared to chess, because ahead of your next move, you need to think several steps in advance when you’re making your current move. The brain exercise involved here is exceptional.

Want to kick things up a notch? Consider timing your Sudoku. You only give yourself a specific amount of time in which to complete the puzzle. You may not want to go this route if you’re new to Sudoku, but down the line, if you get really good at them, it’s one more way to challenge yourself. 

As with crossword puzzles, there are hard, average, and easy classifications where Sudoku puzzles are concerned. Start out with the easy ones if you’re unsure how you might do with a challenge such as this. If you’re not good with numbers, the easier puzzles will help you work your way into the game, and move up to harder puzzles from there.

To keep your mind functioning as well as possible, for as long as possible, why not get involved in a few of the above-described memory games?

You may even consider putting together a club consisting of the residents in your retirement community or the friends you like to get together with regularly. Club members will partake in games such as these, so everyone can keep a sharp mind and an uplifted spirit.


E. F.

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