Editor’s Note: Every once in a while I get an offer for a contributed article that doesn’t have much at all to do with helping make us better road riders. At first blush, that was my inclination toward this article. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought running this piece made sense. Keeping your brain and mind active throughout life are vitally important – no less so than keeping your body active. I even had fun playing some of the games at the links in the story. Maybe you will, too. And, in case you didn’t know it, March 13-19 is Brain Awareness Week. So the timing couldn’t be better.
By George Mears
Just like your muscles, your brain needs regular exercise in order to keep it in prime condition and to ward off deterioration. Keeping your brain active and engaged helps it remain strong and ward off the deterioration that characterizes dementia and Alzheimer’s. By playing games such as specially-designed brain training computer games and card games, you can minimize the brain health deterioration that puts you at risk of these diseases.
Here are 4 of the best types of brain-boosting games to help you keep your brain sharp, keep deterioration at bay and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.
1. Computer Games
While there is something to be said for playing games with a group of people and enjoying the added benefits of socializing, playing computer games is one way to give your brain the exercise it needs to minimize brain deterioration. Developers are designing and creating games specifically for brain training, and many of them involve challenging your working memory and mental agility.
Some of the best games for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, in addition to those at risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s, include Luminosity and Dakim. Luminosity stimulates your brain every day with games designed to improve the working memory. On the other hand, Dakim is billed as a “brain fitness program” that provides a set of games and puzzles designed for a more comprehensive brain workout. Other computer games incorporate puzzles and challenges that get more difficult as players progress, giving them a good brain workout each time they play.
2. Card Games
Card games provide an ideal way to exercise the brain and help stave off further deterioration. When we play a game of cards, we sharpen our minds and create memories when we play with others. Card players must strategize, look ahead, and consider possible outcomes. Problem-solving skills must be employed quickly and covertly, and math skills come into play when players need to do mental math or use analysis to determine their next move.
Memory also comes into play when you are playing cards. You have to monitor which cards have been played in addition to the behavior of fellow players in order to know if they’ve been bluffing. You also have to use your memory to continue conversations with fellow card players from the week before.
3. One of These Things Is Not Like the Other
A fun game that you may be familiar with if you have children in your life is One of These Things is Not Like the Others. Players must begin by looking over the objects in the game and search, scan, and sort to identify the item that does not have any connection to the others. People at risk of dementia benefit from playing this game because they must determine which pieces of information about the items are the most helpful in choosing the one that does not belong. Repeated practice builds stamina in the person and improves the speed and ease of filtering information and getting to that which is most important.
4. Play Sudoku
Sudoku is a math game that doubles as a memory game. Designed for a single player, Sudoku consists of grids with some boxes pre-filled with the numbers one through nine. Players must look at the numbers given and then fill in each remaining empty box with a number that does not repeat in a row, column, or block. The game is challenging because there is one correct answer for each empty box, and players must solve the puzzle until all empty boxes are full. Sudoku puts players’ math skills, memories, and problem-solving skills to the test and stimulates several areas of the brain to keep it active and engaged enough to stave off more deterioration.
Keeping your brain active and engaged helps it remain strong and ward off the deterioration that characterizes dementia and Alzheimer’s. By playing games such as specially-designed brain training computer games and card games, you can minimize the brain health deterioration that puts you at risk of these diseases.
George Mears is a brain fitness expert, educator, and counselor. One of his primary areas of study is neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change and improve over one’s lifetime. He believes in the power of games, puzzles, memory activities, and other brain-boosting practices to encourage brain plasticity and minimize brain health deterioration and shares his thoughts and favorite brain fitness exercises at BrainWellness.info.