Many doctors encourage seniors to use brain fitness games to help deal with dementia, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases, says SeniorLiving.org.
While research remains inconclusive, there appears to be a correlation between brain games and brain health.
The website says brain games that may help seniors include:
Memory games, such as Match and Simon.
Word games, such as word searches and Scrabble.
Electronic games, such as Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and Family Feud.
Board games, such as Chess and Checkers.
Interactive Wii and X-Box games.
Trivia games, such as Trivial Pursuit.
Best Exercises for Brain Health
There’s a lot you can learn from your elders, starting with the results of a multi-year study of exercise and brain health in seniors.
Researchers from Columbia University and the University of Miami compared results of two sets of brain scans and tests measuring memory and thinking skills in 876 seniors. The tests were done five years apart.
The researchers found a greater mental decline for those who reported low-activity exercises, such as light walking and yoga, compared to those with high-activity levels and exercises like running and cardio workouts.
The difference was equal to 10 years of brain aging, and that was after considering other factors that can influence brain health, such as excess weight, high blood pressure, smoking and drinking, according to the findings published in the journal Neurology.
Researchers are also learning about the brain benefits of cardio exercise from lab studies — those done on animals. One study found that sustained aerobic activity — such as daily jogging for several miles at a moderate pace — can encourage the growth of new brain cells, even later in life.
Research into which specific cardio activities are best for each of the sexes is ongoing, so there’s still more to learn. In the future, the goal is to learn more about how to individualize exercise for brain health.
This isn’t to say that other types of exercise aren’t important parts of an overall fitness regimen. Strength training helps you stay independent, while yoga, other flexibility exercises and balance work help prevent dangerous falls and keep you limber.
It may be hard to begin an exercise program if you’ve never been active, but it starts with your mindset: Don’t think of exercise as a necessary evil, but rather as something positive you do for yourself because of all the things it gives back.