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9 Memory-Boosting Games for People With Alzheimer’s

As we age, maintaining cognitive function becomes increasingly important to ensure a high quality of life. Memory is a vital aspect of cognitive health, and engaging in regular mental exercises can help seniors maintain and even enhance their memory skills. Playing memory-boosting games is an effective and enjoyable method for achieving this goal. These games not only provide entertainment but also stimulate different areas of the brain, helping keep the mind sharp and active. In this article, we will explore a variety of fun games specifically designed to boost memory in seniors.

1. Crossword Puzzles

Memory-Boosting Games, Crossword Puzzles
Crossword puzzles continue to be a popular choice for cognitive workouts, as research indicates a clear link between this activity and a reduced risk of dementia onset. Filling in the blanks and deciphering clues requires recalling words and their meanings. The mental effort involved in solving crossword puzzles engages various cognitive functions, such as pattern recognition and recall, which can help seniors boost their memory skills.
However, the drawback to relying solely on crosswords to enhance memory and overall brain function is that becoming exceptionally proficient at them might mean you're not pushing your mental boundaries. To introduce a greater challenge, consider mixing in various word-search games to maintain your brain's active engagement.

2. Scrabble

Memory-Boosting Games, Scrabble
At times, even people facing normal memory changes associated with age find themselves in situations where a word is on the tip of their tongue but yet out of reach. Experts in dementia studies suggest that Scrabble proves to be an excellent tool for enhancing memory and preserving verbal fluency. Since success in the game revolves around constructing words featuring letters carrying high values, participants are encouraged to recall a broad spectrum of such words.
However, experts believe that even those with more severe memory loss may benefit from playing Scrabble, provided they use extra tiles in order to make words more easily.

3. Jigsaw Puzzles

Memory-Boosting Games,
When you work on a jigsaw puzzle, you activate both the creative (right) and logical (left) functions of your brain, which leads to enhanced visuospatial abilities. As the number of puzzle pieces increases, the demand on your brain intensifies, demanding increased cognitive effort from your brain. This heightened engagement results in greater satisfaction, as placing a puzzle piece triggers the release of dopamine, which enhances concentration. If landscapes and exotic creatures bore you, try a simpler puzzle with only the blank side visible. Without color, you'll have to rely solely on shapes.
Additionally, jigsaw puzzles provide a source of relaxation and can be enjoyed socially with friends, which contributes to brain health as well.

4. Sudoku

Memory-Boosting Games, Sudoku
Sudoku is a number-based puzzle game that enhances logical thinking and memory. The objective is to fill a grid with numbers so that each column, row, and smaller subgrid contains all the numbers from one to nine. Solving Sudoku puzzles requires careful thinking, planning, and memory to keep track of the numbers placed in various positions on the grid.
It's worth noting that Sudoku is considered most effective in the initial stages, before your brain becomes accustomed to organizing the numbers. When it becomes less of a challenge, it's a good indication to explore a different option.

5. Rebus Puzzles

Neurological experts believe there is another, lesser-known puzzle type that can enhance your memory: rebus puzzles. In a rebus puzzle, a combination of letters, numbers, visuals, and symbols is often used to convey clues for the solution. For instance, the puzzle phrase "BAD BAD" is a coded representation of "too bad." To unravel these puzzles, a grasp of clichés and commonly used phrases is essential, since you can't depend on suggested or context-based hints as you would in a typical word or sentence game.

Experts recommend rebus puzzles as a means to boost both verbal and visual memory skills. Apart from linking words with images and sounds, these puzzles also promote mental flexibility by encouraging creative and lateral thinking.

6. Chess

Memory-Boosting Games, 6. Chess
When it comes to intellectually challenging games, chess is a standout choice. Those new to the game often rely on their short-term memory to analyze the board and devise their immediate moves. As players accumulate experience, they encode strategies into their long-term memory, resulting in a shift towards retaining information over a longer period of time.
Chess is a strategic and logical game that requires planning, problem-solving, and decision-making, say medical professionals. Chess can improve your working memory because it requires you to mentally handle multiple pieces and moves. Furthermore, because of the demands on picturing the game board and probable outcomes, chess has the potential to improve spatial memory.

7. Chinese Checkers/Checkers

Memory-Boosting Games, Chinese Checkers
Games like Checkers and Chinese Checkers provide a delightful way to boost memory at any age. An interesting finding from a 2016 study published in the journal Brain Imaging Behavior indicated that participation in several games, including checkers, could lead to improved cognitive function.
"The participants underwent an extensive battery of neuropsychological tests that spanned conventional cognitive domains of memory, attention, executive function, language, and visuospatial ability," the study authors wrote.
These games were significantly associated with immediate memory, verbal learning memory, recall speed, and flexibility in regression models.
As part of a dementia prevention program, several dementia care professionals now urge their clients to play checkers. Checkers, they say, can help create social ties, which are vital for preserving cognitive health, because of their simple rules.

8. Word Recall Games

Memory-Boosting Games, Word Recall Games

Word recall games involve challenging seniors to remember lists of words in a specific order. For instance, a facilitator might recite a list of items, and participants have to recall and repeat the items in the same order. This game helps improve verbal memory and concentration, both of which are vital for maintaining cognitive health.

Related: Learn to Quickly Boost Your Memory!

9. Concentration

Concentration is a card game in which you have to match pairs of cards having the same image or value. As Concentration requires you to recall both the location and sound of each card, it can improve both your visual and auditory memory. The game can also help improve attention span and focus.

To add an element of excitement to the activity, consider trying the "spaghetti" variation, where cards are placed in a more chaotic arrangement rather than organized rows. This will pose a greater challenge in recalling the positions of the cards.

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