4 Ways Chess and Brain Games Benefit Seniors
Did you know “brain games” such as chess, bridge, and word puzzles may help seniors keep their minds sharp? Researchers say these fun, challenging, and engaging activities have a significant positive impact on mental function, which can be especially beneficial for older adults as they age. Plus, puzzles and games can provide a range of social and emotional benefits.
Here are four ways brain games can improve cognitive function and overall well-being for seniors:
1. Brain Games May Help Seniors Advance Thinking Skills
As part of the normal aging process, the mind may slow down in minor ways. Signs of decline include:
- Memory not as sharp
- Planning skills suffer
- Vocabulary diminishing
- Processing speed reduced
- Reaction times slower
Games can prevent normal age-related mental decline in a similar way to how exercise prevents loss of muscle. Many elderly individuals, particularly those who are retired, no longer use their minds in the same way they did when they were younger. Brain games can combat this cognitive decline, re-engage the mind, and improve thinking skills.
Experts also recommend regularly changing the games played. Familiar activities may not have the same protective effect as learning to master a new one.
2. Brain Games May Have a Positive Social and Emotional Impact
For seniors who have trouble with stress and anxiety, games can be a great coping mechanism. Refocusing the mind by strategizing how to checkmate an opponent or finish a word puzzle can reduce stress and relieve daily anxieties. Many seniors also find games relaxing and enjoyable. Often, these activities can be incorporated into a calming, predictable routine — such as working on a jigsaw puzzle after dinner or solving the crossword puzzle in the Sunday edition of the local newspaper.
Games can also help seniors socialize. Older adults can become isolated from their communities, and they can suffer from senior loneliness and depression. Seniors can resist this by joining a chess club, having a card night with friends, or working on a jigsaw puzzle with a group. This will help them stay connected to their communities and improve their mood along with thinking skills.
3. Brain Games Can Help Seniors Connect with Loved Ones
Games may provide an opportunity to connect with family members, such as grandchildren who enjoy riddles or adult children who enjoy crossword puzzles or chess.
Many of these activities can now be played online, enabling family and friends who live far away to participate in the fun times together. Online games can also keep seniors connected to loved ones during times when social distancing may be required, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Learning a New Skill May Provide Health and Wellness Benefits
Other options are available to keep aging minds healthy and engaged. Experts recommend hobbies such as learning photography or another language. Finding new, challenging-but-enjoyable mental tasks and learning to master them will help keep the mind young.
Physical exercise may also prevent age-related cognitive decline by boosting blood flow to the brain and keeping the mind in shape. For best results, experts recommend a mix of regular intellectual and physical exercise.
Thought-provoking games like chess or word puzzles are easy to acquire and learn. Although it’s never too late to engage the mind, the best time to start benefitting from brain games is today.
Find out more about our companion care services and how our dedicated and compassionate caregivers can help engage with your senior loved one through games, hobbies, or other activities that will boost their cognitive function and overall well-being.