10+ Popular Mind-stimulating Games for Seniors
From shaping thoughts and emotions to functioning as a gallery of memories, the human brain is constantly at work. This makes caring for your mental health a crucial aspect of staying productive and healthy with age. Continuing to engage in brain-stimulating activities after retirement helps seniors prevent mental health conditions and stay mentally active. So, let’s explore and evaluate the importance of free brain games for seniors.
If you are a “wordsmith” with a penchant for good vocabulary, scrabble is the perfect game for you. The game requires players to pick from tiles comprising one letter each and form new words on a board. Once the first word is played, players take turns using new letters and building on existing letters to form new words. The game ends when you have used all your tiles or cannot form any new words on the board. Scrabble works on your linguistic intelligence, one of the eight types of intelligence listed by psychologist Howard Gardner. Moreover, it enhances your recall capacity and memory power, challenging you to remember words without any cues while playing the game. The free online version eliminates the need for a traditional board and letter tiles. Scrabble® GO, Classic Words Solo, Word Crack, and Wordfeud are some fun-filled and mentally stimulating Scrabble apps you can choose from.
This quintessential brain game has been around for ages and for a good reason. Sudoku requires players to fill in a 9×9 square grid with numbers from one to nine, no repeats (vertically or horizontally). The square is further segregated into 3×3 boxes, where each of these small squares cannot contain any repeated numbers either. Although the game may appear challenging from the outset, it can be highly rewarding in enhancing several cognitive functions. While playing sudoku, you utilize the cerebrum, an area that plays a key role in problem-solving, reasoning, judgment, and learning. Thus, this game provides considerable mental stimulation to seniors and may even reduce the risk of mental health conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Today, sudoku is among the popular free online brain games recommended to seniors.
There’s perhaps no better way to enhance your literary and verbal skills than a game of taboo. The game involves cards with a word each, which the teammates must guess based on the cues that the player or “giver” with the card provides. Each card also contains a list of “taboo” (forbidden) words that the player should not use while explaining the word. Moreover, each player typically has only one minute to elicit the target word. This cognitive game can boost seniors’ communication skills, vocabulary, and intellectual faculties and help with socialization, as the game needs to be played in person. According to the American Public Health Association, such social interactions are essential to enhance mood, memory recall, and cognition among seniors. The free app, called “Taboo – Official Party Game,” is among the most popular games to play with your loved ones.
This easy yet engaging game is popular at libraries and senior centers. Bingo offers several mental health benefits, such as enhanced memory and social engagement, better cognitive functioning, increased alertness, and better hand-eye coordination. Thus, it is an effective way of increasing brain activity. In addition, it encourages social interactions, as this game is played in a group. So, gather your friends in your living room on a sunny afternoon, download a free bingo app, and enjoy a fun-filled and productive game day! Blackout Bingo, Bingo Clash, Bingo Aloha, and Xtreme Bingo are some of the available free app options.
Several studies have demonstrated that chess can act as a protective factor against the onset of dementia. This game can enhance your visuospatial skills, critical thinking, and memory, among other functions. It can also boost your creativity and the ability to perceive the opponent’s perspective – a phenomenon called “theory of mind.” Thus, chess can be an incredibly mentally stimulating board game with a host of benefits for your mental health and cognition. It is also among the popular free brain games for seniors today, as there are many chess apps offering a range of difficulty levels, multiplayer options, and practice modes. Chess.com, Lichess, Board Game Arena, and SocialChess are some popular free chess apps you can pick from.
If you are looking for an exciting but light memory game, look no further than mahjong. This game originated in China and is traditionally played with 144 tiles stacked one over the other among four players. Players must match identical tiles by moving them adjacent to each other without disturbing the other tiles and toppling the stack. The tiles are segregated into consecutive levels, each comprising a set of tiles. A study by a team at the University of Georgia revealed that middle-aged and elderly Chinese mahjong players who regularly performed well in the game had lowered depression rates. In another study, participants with mild cognitive impairment who played mahjong thrice a week for 12 weeks exhibited enhanced executive functioning. Today, free mahjong apps, such as Mahjong Club, are available to enable players to enjoy the game virtually.
Jigsaw puzzles are popular among kids and seniors alike. It includes the assembly of oddly shaped titles to complete the picture. The game requires considerable focus, which can enhance short-term memory and problem-solving skills. Such effects of jigsaw puzzles are also associated with preventing cognitive decline and reducing the risk of dementia among older adults. Take your pick from a wide range of free jigsaw puzzle apps and online games, and enjoy them alone or with your gang of friends. For example, the free app Jigsaw Puzzle Pop entails a diverse collection of challenging puzzles and is available for Android users. Jigsaw Puzzles Real, an app compatible with iOS and Android devices, is another great virtual option with over 2,000 puzzles at the users’ disposal.
Memory card matching games
These games are ideal memory exercises for seniors to improve their concentration, visual memory, short-term memory, and attention to detail. Mental health professionals often recommend such memory games to seniors with dementia to help boost their cognitive functioning over time. Memozor, a free online brain game app, offers memory card matching games with options developed specifically for seniors.
Brain teasers are riddles and puzzles that need unconventional thinking to solve them. Enhanced learning ability, problem-solving, and conscious thinking are just some of the benefits of these games. Additionally, studies demonstrate the effectiveness of brain teasers and puzzles in improving mental stimulation among seniors and facilitating an active mind. Today, several apps are available with varying difficulty levels, including riddles, optical illusions, and number games. BrainCurls is one such app that entails several types of brain teasers, such as logic and math quizzes and memory games for seniors. If you are looking for something interesting, SharpBrains is also an excellent optical illusion brain game alongside other options, such as memory games and riddles.
Similar to chess, players must strategize their moves to defeat their opponents. This game enhances seniors’ analytical and problem-solving skills, concentration, reasoning, and short-term memory. There are highly rated free apps facilitating mentally stimulating virtual checkers games.
Solitaire is a light game that does not stress the brain but requires you to be mentally active. This classic game can serve as a mood enhancer and reduce stress and anxiety levels in seniors. The game can also help improve your memory functions and alleviate boredom.
The importance of trivia quizzes in brain functioning is quite underrated. These are a comprehensive list of questions on a particular topic. Such quizzes can enhance cognitive functions like critical thinking, observation, and memory power. They also help improve your arithmetic, reading, and writing skills and increase mental stimulation. Some free trivia quiz apps that you can enjoy are Trivia Crack, Trivia 360, Jeopardy!, World Tour, Psych!, and Trivia Star.
Connect 4, also called Four in a Row, requires two players in turns to drop colored discs into a grid comprising seven columns and six rows. Each player is assigned a color, and the player who first forms a diagonal, vertical, or horizontal line with four same-colored discs wins the game. Although the game is basic, it taps into various cognitive faculties, including planning and organizational skills, pattern recognition, arithmetic, and problem-solving skills. Thus, it can be a mind-stimulating game for seniors and help ensure optimal brain activity. Four in a Row Connect Game is a free online app entailing unique themes and appealing 3D graphics, which can elevate the gaming experience for seniors.
The good old crossword puzzles can never go out of trend. There is perhaps no better way to increase your vocabulary and enhance your mental faculties than to solve crossword puzzles regularly. A study published in NEJM Evidence suggests that individuals with mild memory issues who solved web crossword puzzles regularly experienced less brain shrinkage and exhibited enhanced cognition. Crossword puzzles enable you to form new associations by linking concepts that you would generally not perceive together. Such new associations help strengthen the cortex and hippocampus regions of the brain. The New York Times website offers several innovative crossword puzzles and free brain games for seniors to pick from, including Wordle, Spelling Bee, Tiles, Vertex, and Letter Boxed. Apart from this, Crossword Unlimited, CodyCross, Crossword Puzzle Free (for Android), and Crossword Puzzle Redstone (for iOS) are some other crossword puzzle apps to train your brain.
This ostensibly basic game entails several mental health benefits. It is not only suitable for children but also for adults and seniors. The game rules are simple – players must take turns arranging tiles in a line, such that the line contains six tiles of the same shape but different colors or vice versa. The player who places the sixth tile in a line earns six extra points for completing a Qwirkle. Studies have shown that this brain game may benefit patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The game also enhances memory recall and strategic thinking, which can increase brain activity. The Qwirkle app by Mindware, designed for iPad users, includes four difficulty levels, together with appealing customization, animation, and music features to enhance your gaming experience. The game is also available for Android users called “6 in a Row.”
The Importance of Brain Games for Seniors
Enhanced cognitive functioning
Studies have found that brain games and puzzles reduce one’s susceptibility to cognitive decline and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Brain games stimulate various brain memory functions in seniors, including processing speed and executive function. They can also improve your memory, attention, language, and reasoning skills.
A sense of accomplishment
According to Berta Rezik, a family medicine specialist at Henry Ford Health, board games are not just effective ways to pass the time but also essential to facilitate a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
Brain-training games involve various challenges and levels to test and optimize your memory power. Hence, such games effectively improve short-term memory, which typically deteriorates with age.
Improved reaction time
Timed game levels require players to use their presence of mind and react with speed and accuracy. Therefore, certain brain games, particularly timed ones, can help improve your reaction time, focus, and speed.
Mental agility refers to one’s ability to think and absorb new information efficiently. Brain games require you to think critically and complete challenges within the given timeframe, increasing your mind’s flexibility over time.
Most older individuals no longer push themselves to solve challenging situations as they used to in their prime years. Certain brain games help them re-engage their minds to solve problems. Problem-solving is a major aspect of brain games, involving progression to new levels as players complete existing ones. Thus, brain games help you significantly improve problem-solving skills.
Improved concentration capacity
Brain games typically involve different levels and require players to think strategically, which can increase their concentration and dedication toward fulfilling a goal.
Today, there is no dearth of online websites offering free brain games, brain teasers, and memory exercises for seniors to play individually, in multiplayer mode, or in person. While looking for suitable apps for brain games, research the app and the game interface, and compare their features and designs. It is also important to look for safe apps. Also, don’t forget to read online reviews and check the app’s version history before downloading it. Finally, just like any other habit, brain games can also become addictive with excessive use. So to prevent this, set a fixed “game time” and monitor it in your daily routine and focus on other productive offline activities.