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Promoting Mental Wellness with Brain-Boosting Games

Over the past 10 years, a wave of scientific studies has proven the benefits of brain training for seniors. Researchers at London Metropolitan University advise 15 minutes of daily brain training for promoting the growth of new brain cells. Knowing this, North Coast in-home care experts recommend engaging your senior loved one in games designed to boost the brain. Here are just a few ways he or she can benefit from these activities.

Increased Multitasking

North Coast caregivers often excel at juggling responsibilities. Therefore, you’ll especially note the value of this benefit for your loved one. A 2013 university study found video games could increase plasticity, the brain’s ability to change and adapt. Our brains contain gray matter, specialised cells that supply nutrients to nerve cells. With age, gray matter can shrink and neural connections can weaken, which can impair the ability to think. However, brain aging can be slowed and even reversed with targeted training. New nerve pathways and neural connections can also be established.

This study on plasticity, published in Nature, tested a 3D game called NeuroRacer on subjects aged 20-70. They found multitasking abilities significantly depreciate with age. NeuroRacer involves steering a car along a winding road with one hand while shooting down road signs with the other hand. One group of seniors received 12 hours of training over a one-month period. At the end of the study, the seniors earned higher scores than the untrained 20-year-olds. Performance in memory and attention also increased. Testing revealed the seniors’ brain waves were more active, which reflected increased neural networking.

Keener Memory

Brain games can offset your loved one’s forgetfulness. A 2014 statistical analysis by Northwestern University reviewed 13 studies on brain training and memory. Scientists saw consistent gains in recall, which implies gaming strengthens the ability to retain information. Playing games can also enhance fluid intelligence, the capacity to reason, make conceptual connections, and solve problems.

Brighter Mood

Depression is common in older adults. However, keeping your loved one’s brain active can alleviate feelings of melancholy. A 2011 study in the British Medical Journal found computerized brain games could reduce the risk of depression in seniors by 38 percent. In a March 2013 study of 140 seniors, those who played video games reported a more positive outlook, greater wellbeing, and better overall health than non-gamers. North Carolina SU scientists found a link between brain training and emotional health. Study subjects were asked how frequently they played video games and answered questions that assessed emotional and social wellbeing. Seniors who played video games claimed higher levels of social function, mood, and wellbeing than non-gamers.

Enhanced Language Skills

Brain games can also facilitate your loved one’s capacity for expression. In 2010, the software firm Posit Science found brain training can increase auditory processing. After seniors engaged in daily one-hour sessions for 8 weeks, they reported improvement in communication and recalling names and numbers.

Keeping your loved one mentally engaged can help promote his or her quality of life. One way to ensure your loved one’s increased overall wellbeing is by hiring North Coast part-time care or live-in care. At Home Care Assistance, we offer specialised care for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and all of our caregivers are trained in the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, an activities-based program designed to help seniors with memory related conditions lead healthier and happier lives. For more information on our aged care services, call one of our qualified Care Managers at (02) 6646 3527 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.