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Stimulating Mind Games and Brain Teasers for Seniors

Reviewed by M.A. Gabrielle Applebury
Senior woman playing mind games online

Keeping your mind "physically fit" is important to one's health as a senior citizen. It's well known among doctors and researchers that senior brain games and mentally-stimulating leisure activities help maintain one's cognitive abilities that can decline as people age.

Online Brain Games for Seniors

Seniors can enjoy a large selection of games to stimulate thinking online. The following list introduces a handful of resources with hundreds of games:

AARP Brain Games

AARP is a well-known nonprofit organization with a mission to help people 50 and over improve the quality of their lives. This is reflected in the mind games for seniors they offer. Word games for senior citizens such as crosswords, Word Search and Word Wipe are popular favorites. They also offer a selection of strategy games and brain teasers for the elderly to get you thinking, and if you like to socialize they also offer group games that allow you to play with or against others. More common games you can play by yourself or with others include mahjongg and several variations of solitaire.

Braingle Offers Senior Brain Teasers and More

Braingle is more than a game site. They also offer daily exercises designed to help improve memory and manage stress. This site offers plenty of games to entertain and stimulate your thinking and also lets you rate their puzzles and quizzes if you become a registered member. Registration is free and allows access to a selection of exclusive games. Along with these features, the over 200,000 members can join a large online community of others who enjoy brain teasers, puzzles, and quizzes. You can make friends on the forum boards and chat with others.

senior couple using laptop

Sharp Brains

Sharp Brains not only offers plenty of brain teasers and games, they also teach you about your brain. For those interested in learning more, they provide a list of popular articles dealing with brain care and fitness. Brain teasers you can play for free on the site include visual illusions, language and logic mind teasers and pattern recognition games.

Puzzle Prime

This website offers free games that are thought provoking for people of all ages. "Puzzle crime stories" give you information about a fictional case and you need to use your brain to solve it. If you get stuck, there's a forum to find clues with other players. There are also a variety of types of brain teasers including riddles, math problems, and even chess games. You can also choose games based on their difficulty. Sign up for their email newsletter and you'll receive puzzles in your mail as well.

Brain Den

Brain Den has puzzles, riddles and brain teasers that seniors will love working through on their own, or with friends. You can choose from puzzles based on logic, geometry or pictures. There's also a forum to discuss puzzle clues and how to solve them.You can also play chess, sudoku, and crossword puzzles that are refreshed daily.

Lumosity

This popular app was designed by scientists and game designers to make entertaining games that stretch your mental faculties. You start out by taking a "fit test" to see how you do with some basic games and where your scores fall based on your age. The app then sends daily workouts to you that will level up in difficulty based on your skill in completing them. You can check your dashboard to see how well you're doing and in what cognitive areas you need to improve. Lumosity has been used by over 85 million people internationally. It's free to sign up with access to limited games or a subscription with full access is $14.95/month or $63.96 for a year. You can also buy family and team subscriptions.

Offline Brain Games for Seniors

If you don't have access to a computer, this doesn't mean you can't play brain games. There are many games that can be played offline that are mentally stimulating.

Classic Board Games

Some board games focus just on fun game play but others require some thinking and strategy to win. Good examples are games like Clue where you need to think through the clues to find the killer or Axis and Allies which involves creating a strategy before you start to play and following it through to win the game. Even a game like chess, which has a very simple board and rules, can be a complex game that makes you review every move in your head to achieve victory over your opponent. Scrabble is also an excellent classic board game that actually has documented research demonstrating its positive effect on the brain.

Friends playing chess in garden

Games on Paper

Examples of games on paper are games you can find in your daily newspaper or in booklets purchased at your local bookstore or stores like Walmart or Target. Popular games of this type include sudoku, crossword puzzles and word finder puzzles. These games all are also available on smartphones as apps, or you can find them online and print them out to work on at your leisure with a pencil and a cup of coffee.

Jigsaw Puzzles

While you can find jigsaw puzzles online, there's nothing like the traditional "physical" task of spreading all the pieces out on a table and working your way through the puzzle. It's also a fun activity you can do with others, regardless of age. Jigsaw puzzles can also range in difficulty so depending on how much of a challenge you want, you can pick an easy game with larger, fewer pieces or a difficult one with many, smaller pieces.

Trivia Games

Trivia games are a great way to test your memory as well as review topics that are of interest to you. You can also buy a trivia game like Trivial Pursuit or make your own trivia games by coming up with questions and answers to test your friends. A trivia game is a wonderful option because it can be as complex as you want it to be and require purchasing a game board, or cost nothing by just using a pencil and some paper and your brain.

Memory Card Games

Using a deck of playing cards, you can set up a memory game that can be played by one or more people. Simply take the deck and lay the cards out, face down, in several even rows. Flip the cards over to see what the number and suit is and then flip it back. If you're playing with someone else, take turns doing this until you start to find matching pairs. As you find a pair, flip them over and remove from the board. The player to find the most cards wins. You can also increase the difficulty by requiring matching pairs to have different suits or colors.

Benefits of Mentally-Stimulating Mind Games for Seniors

A New England Journal of Medicine study reported results of a study that followed the leisure activities of seniors for 20 years. One area of the study looked specifically at whether participants developed dementia. Mentally stimulating games took into consideration those games that challenged participants to think, such as crossword puzzles, board games or cards, and other activities like reading or playing a musical instrument. It also took into consideration the amount of physical activity in participants' lives. The results showed that those who kept both their minds and bodies active proved to be less likely to develop dementia. In fact:

  • The study showed a direct (negative) correlation between the two: the more active a person was, the less likely he or she was to develop dementia.
  • Those who participated in physical and mentally stimulating activities once a week reduced their risk of dementia by 7 percent.
  • Those who played mind games for seniors more often and who lived a more dynamic lifestyle with activities like dancing, tennis or even walking, reduced their risk by 63 percent.

Benefits of Online Brain Games

Aside from the obvious brain-stimulating benefits that are the result of playing mind games, many game sites offer opportunities for social interaction through forums and chats. Grandparents can even stay connected with their grandkids by playing multi-player games together, which is not only a great way to stay sharp but also an ideal way to stay connected with loved ones and/or friends.

Stimulating Mind Games and Brain Teasers for Seniors