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Whether you’re getting up there in years, or you have older loved ones, we’re all eager for ways to stay sharp and focused. Luckily, when it comes to improving your mind’s health, there’s an option that’s both effective and fun—playing games. 

According to a Harvard study, playing games can improve memory and concentration, especially as we age. Although games cannot reduce the risk of diseases such as dementia, Dr. Julie Brody-Magid explains: “they may help with improving select brain skills and can play an important role in maintaining overall brain health.”

Below is a list of five games to improve memory and concentration. All of these options will help keep your mind flexible, responsive, and alert—plus, they’re enjoyable to play!

Chess

When choosing games to improve memory and concentration, consider one of the all-time classics: chess. Studies show the benefits of learning or casually playing chess for cognitive function. While other research suggests that regular or expert chess play can have effects on auditory memory and cognitive abilities.

This fascinating game of strategy can also serve as a social activity by playing with a friend or family member. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can play on a phone, tablet, or computer. The latter will allow you to choose from virtual competitors, so you’re able to challenge your mind further. 

Video Games 

Video games are an often-overlooked option when it comes to mental improvement—especially for seniors. However, playing video games can do wonders for your memory and concentration. In particular, new preliminary research suggests strategy-based video games (which focus on planning and skillful thinking) may help improve brain function in older adults.

Not only that, but video games can be a fantastic way to bond with friends or younger relatives. For example, older adults can bridge the gap with grandchildren by playing video games together, both improving their minds while also forging deeper relationships.

Crossword Puzzles 

There’s almost nothing more enjoyable than setting in with your breakfast and a crossword puzzle. But these classics games do far more than simply entertain. Crossword puzzles may delay the onset of memory loss, according to a scientific study.  

Keep in mind that the most successful puzzles are the ones you find challenging. If you can finish a puzzle with hardly any thought, it’s time to move on to more difficult options. Crossword puzzles are also one of the simplest games to improve memory and concentration. You can use a book of crosswords, or even play on your phone or tablet. 

If you want to be social, try a competitive version of crossword puzzles. At Vineyard Bluffton, we host Scrabble and Boggle competitions, for residents to work on word association games together.  

Sudoku 

Unlike crosswords, sudoku puzzles are based on numbers, making them a fun way to branch out. Instead of relying on pop culture references, facts, and puns, sudoku puzzles require careful reasoning to find a digit’s place. Like crosswords, you can play in a book or on an electronic device, making them easy to enjoy anywhere.

If you find yourself loving sudoku puzzles, embrace it. One study found that the more you play, the stronger the effect on cognitive function for seniors. Meaning you don’t have to feel guilty about being addicted! 

Jigsaw Puzzles 

Jigsaw puzzles are undoubtedly one of the most calming and tranquil games to improve memory and concentration. There are few things more soothing than a warm drink, a comfortable chair, and opening a new puzzle! Even better, every time you click a piece into place, your brain produces dopamine. This “feel good” chemical not only brightens your mood, but it’ll encourage you to keep playing—and keep improving your memory.

While you’re having all this fun, you’ll also be doing your brain a favor. Recent studies show that jigsaw puzzles can boost visuospatial cognitive abilities, (the ability to see and understand what’s around you as well as perceive spatial relationships). Another study explains further, stating that regular jigsaw puzzle playing “strongly taps multiple visuospatial cognitive processes including perception, constructional praxis, mental rotation, speed, flexibility, working memory, reasoning, and episodic memory.”

Play Games to Improve Memory and Concentration

Taking care of your mind doesn’t have to be a chore. Instead, you can dive into a fun, enjoyable pastime while exercising your mind. Whether it’s crosswords, puzzles, sudoku, chess, or even video games, feel free to jump into an engaging hobby! No matter your interests, there’s a memory- and concentration-boosting game that’s right for you.

Remember, the more enjoyable an activity, the more likely you are to stick with it—so take time to find your favorite hobby.

 

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