People living with dementia, Alzheimer’s or in general people who have a genetic predisposal to these cognitive diseases can train their brains to delay the onset of the problem. We can teach our mind not with physical exercise, of course, but with games and activities that mobilize our neurons.

However, before we write about our favorite activities and game, let consider a few general rules. We can prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia if we stick to some basic good health habits, such as staying physically active as long as possible, getting enough sleep, avoiding smoking, maintaining good social connections, limiting alcohol consumption, and eating a balanced diet low in saturated and trans fats. A lot of scientific studies sustains these claims.

According to an article from Harvard Health Publishing with six simple steps, we can keep our brains sharp at any age. These steps are: continuous learning, using all our senses to learn something, believe in yourself, prioritize brain usage, repeat what you want to learn and space it out.

We also have to mention, that studies that examine the cognitive effects of “mind games” have mixed result. However, a systematic review of these studies concluded, that specific training tasks have a significant impact on working memory, processing speed and brain function. If we play with our favorite game for a few minutes a day, this literally can change our mind.

Games, that can boost our brain and keep it young

1. Crossword puzzle

A classic brain trainer, crosswords are available online and offline. The game is based on our verbal knowledge and uses our long-term memory to recall many dimensions of information. If we fancy the computer, an endless list of crosswords is available on the internet.

2. Sudoku

This game is highly addictive, with easy to learn rules. To complete a Sudoku game, you have to plan and follow the trail of consequences. The game helps improve short-term memory and concentration. Also available offline and online.

3. Online games & apps

You can find many games, apps (even free ones) online, that helps our brain stay young. One of the most famous is Lumosity. The game is split into sessions of four games tailored to our goals: memory, attention, problem solving, processing speed or flexibility of thinking. Developers say, that just one course a day can improve mental skills. Users can track their progress and compare their performance with others. The game is free, but for full access, we have to subscribe.

Our next favorite game is Peak is only available as an iOS or Android app. The app offers different games that test our focus, memory, problem solving or mental agility. A built-in personal trainer helps us reach our Peak goals. The coach will challenge us with new workouts, tracks our progress and shows us, where we can improve. A limited version of the game is free; after we subscribe to the pro version, we unlock 40 different games.

Happy Neuron is an online game with games and activities divided into five brain areas: memory, attention, executive functions, visual and spatial and language. The full game is free for seven days, and if we like the game, we can subscribe to it.

As we mentioned, the effects of these cognitive games are widely disputed. According to critics with training players advance in the world of games but cannot translate the acquired or developed skills into real-life practice. At NETIS we see, that games spice up the established life of seniors, bring some joy in everyday life, and motivate people to try out other activities as well. So whatever the reason, let’s play and have fun!

Author: Laszlo Varga