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Brain Games For Seniors


Can brain games for seniors help in avoiding, postponing or at least lend a substantial hand in mitigating Alzheimer’s debilitating symptoms? While research on this remains inconclusive, more and more scientists and physicians are championing use of brain fitness games for seniors as a means to handle dementia, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive function related diseases.


Physical exercises keeps one healthy and fit. Can brain games help seniors in combating brain related diseases and conditions? This is the primary question scientists are working overtime to answer.


Yearly the US spends an average of 157 billion$ USD on dementia related costs. This number is set to soar to almost double by the year 2040 due to the ageing population. With current research and medical practices, the best we can hope for is to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia diseases, or help manage it in a more humane and accepting way. Brain games for seniors features prominently in this approach.


Previously the medical field was of the opinion that brain and cognitive capacity peaked at a young age and after a certain arbitrary age, there was a slow and steady decline in cognitive functioning and capacity. However, this thinking has since gone an about turn and scientists now have reason to believe this is just not true. Dr Dubal, the head of Neurology in University of California is of the firm belief that brains are capable of development and learning new skills even when they are much older. This is welcome news for those working to aid seniors in coping with dementia and other conditions that attack cognitive function and thinking.


Benefits of brain games for seniors

In one recent research, seniors in different groups underwent varied brain stimulation through everyday activities - one group focused on learning to quilt, another tried to learn digital photography while yet another learned both. And in another test group, seniors were asked to do mundane activities and receptive tasks like doing crosswords or reading newspapers but no active learning was involved.


At the end of the 14 week trial, all the group members were tested thoroughly for memory and cognitive capacities. The group that had engaged in more active learning roles - learning to quilt, handle digital photography software and do crosswords and learn new skills scored best in all the tests.


Clearly there is a direct correlation between simple brain games for seniors and an improvement in cognitive capacity and brain health. The real takeaway is to challenge the brain to learn new skills without asking for too much. Frustration at inability to master a new skill is harmful but a gentle challenge to the brain to push it to develop new thinking and reasoning can be highly beneficial.


While doing crosswords and reading on up on a new subject can be insightful and help develop knowledge, it relies too much on passive participation - that is, drawing on knowledge we already have. However, pushing the brain to learn a new skill, or teasing the brain to learn easy  games for seniors for instance can induce it to grow and develop in an entirely new direction altogether. With far reaching benefits for dementia and Alzheimer’s care.


Language learning as a brain game for seniors

Recent research has repeatedly praised the benefits of a bilingual brain over someone who only speaks one language. Turns out that learning a new language at regardless of age has far reaching benefits than what was once believed, especially in dementia and other brain related conditions.


Learning to speak or communicate in another language or to be considered bilingual need not necessarily mean they excel at it as long as they can communicate, understand and be understood in a language other than their own mother tongue. In other words one need not be proficient to be considered a bilingual.


Learning to learn a new language in the context of learning new brain game for seniors can have cognitive benefits.


Current studies have focused on whether learning a new language as an adult helps people to become more intelligent. Specifically they wanted a concrete answer to whether learning a second language makes people smarter or whether smarter people pick up a second language more easily as adults?


Findings showed that the learning a second language as an adult helped tremendously improve a person’s cognitive capacity and reasoning. Apart from this growing interest in brain fitness games for seniors in healthcare and academic research, easy, online or free brain games for seniors as a culture is coming into its own.


Brain training and brain games for seniors is entering a new phase. With an estimated current  $1.3 billion market size from a $210 million market share in 2005, brain games for seniors is now serious business.


Some medical and psychology experts like David Z. Hambrick caution against the over zealous preaching of putting forth brain games for seniors as a cure for all dementia related problems. He explains that learning to do a task better may simply turn out that the person will end up doing that task better and nothing more. There is also the fact it takes time away for the person from doing something else that they probably love more not to mention the costs involved in all this training - both medical, care and personnel related costs. And let’s not forget inability to master a new task may render the person irritated and frustrated.


So do we have a conclusive answer to whether brain training for seniors is all it is touted to be? While it is still early to focus only on this, the consensus is this - the brain loves new things, and learning a new game, or learning to do a new skill can have far reaching beneficial health effects than previously thought. Whether it is learning to code, quilt, master a software or simply become a pro at an online brain game for seniors, cognitive reasoning, capacity and health will benefit from a combination of activities like physical exercise, rest, and brain training, and not just any one activity alone.

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