Resources for Family Caregivers of Older Adults
Keep Senior Brains Sharp – and It’s Fun Too!

Keep Senior Brains Sharp – and It’s Fun Too!

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Maintaining cognition (awareness, reasoning & judgment) as our senior loved ones age is an important concern for family members and other caregivers.  A decline in mental abilities can often impact the ability of our elders to maintain the independence they desire.

We are often looking for the magic pill that allows us to age gracefully or the fountain of youth that keeps us young.  We try new foods that are touted as ‘super-foods’ that will keep our minds and bodies strong. While magic solutions only exist in advertisements, there are healthy changes that we can help our senior and elderly loved ones make to improve their health and brain function.

Japanese researchers have been looking into the effect of video games on the brain function of seniors.  They have found that playing Brain Age by Nintendo can improve cognitive abilities in seniors. We thought it might be helpful to show you a short video of Brain Age in use. There is another video at the bottom of the post as well.

Seniors were tested to determine their baseline cognition and then asked to play either this game or another video game called Tetris five days a week for fifteen minutes a day for four weeks.  They were then given the same test that was administered at the beginning. Compared to those who played the Tetris game, the seniors who played Brain Age had improved processing speed and executive function.  This means that the organization of thoughts and memory were improved in those who played the game Brain Age.  Brain Age was specifically designed for seniors to increase cognitive function.  The game includes nine different activities including word scrambles, arithmetic questions, reading passages aloud, a virtual piano and more.  All the games have been created to stimulate the part of the brain critical for memory and learning.

While improving brain function, processing speed and potentially memory, the most interesting new finding by these researchers is the short time involved to achieve a noticeable result.  The game players only played for four weeks but showed improvements that were measurable.  We all wonder what improvements and maintenance of these changes might occur with more time spent in brain stimulating activities such as Brain Age.

You can check out a Nintendo DS game system as well as the Brain Age and Brain Age 2 games in the Senior Care Corner Bookstore under the Software tab.  There are also other products to help stimulate your senior’s brain that you might enjoy. We would love to hear what activities you use to keep you and your senior’s brain active!

We want to leave you with another short video of Brain Age in use by a senior.

2 Responses to Keep Senior Brains Sharp – and It’s Fun Too!

  1. I’ve learned – though I’m not quite yet a senior – that what I call “Brain Exercise” has made me smarter, improved my memory, and allowed me to grow so much. To me, “Brain Exercise” means learning new things, being challenged like participating in Tweet Chats, and struggling with new tech.

    Isn’t it true that the only organ of our body that can actually regenerate throughout our lives is the brain? Don’t let that precious organ shrivel up even if the rest of your body does!

    I can’t wait until Thursday when we have YOU, Barry, as our co-host on #DadChat! Talking about The Triple Decker Sandwich Generation!

    • Thanks for your insightful comments, Bruce!

      You are correct, keeping your brain engaged by being a life long learner, thinking critically, and interacting socially and Yes! even being a gamer! will definitely keep our minds sharp as we age. We have to be proactive about participating in activities that will keep all parts of our bodies healthy. The best part of using a game system to help stimulate our brains is it can further improve the whole experience as we play with family and friends, enjoying socialization and making memories.

      I will be checking out your #DadChat as you, Barry and others talk about the issues facing the triple decker sandwich generation!

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