What are cognitive abilities?

Cognitive abilities are “tools” of the human brain that allow us to grasp concepts, understand ideas, maintain relationships with other people and participate in daily life. In other words, cognitive abilities allow us to obtain knowledge and to understand it by absorbing it using all five senses.

These abilities begin to develop in our first years of life. This phase is essential for a person’s way to deal with their surroundings. Although we are able to develop a number of skills thanks to our cognitive abilities, they don’t last forever. Just like us, they age.

Why do they get worse with age?

The aging process brings with it a number of changes to our brain functions. One of the most frequent changes concerns the speed of information processing. Aging is furthermore accompanied by several changes in behavior such as increased distance from one’s relatives and a routine that lacks physical exertion and other common situations.

Our cognitive abilities reach their peak at 30 years of age and stay there until we are about 50. Even though there are no general rules that apply to all people it is generally accepted that information processing starts to slow down when we turn 50.

Despite the fact that this is a natural process behavioral changes and changes to brain functions accelerate this process:
  • Decreased understanding;
  • Impaired ability to think;
  • Difficulties carrying out simple tasks;
  • Memory loss;
  • Attention loss.
In this context it must be underlined that these are natural symptoms accompanying the physical aging process and do not necessarily point to an underlying serious illness. If cognitive decline proceeds faster than usual, however, illnesses such as Alzheimer’s can develop.

The best thing to do is to have elderly people examined by a doctor regularly and to pay attention to atypical behavior. Thus we can make healthy aging easier for our elderly.

How can memory games help elderly people?

The human brain works like a muscle. To be continually stimulated to think it must be worked, regardless of a person’s age. Physical obstacles at an advanced age make this muscle become weaker and weaker. The key to maintaining its function lies in training.

Memory games are simple and mighty weapons to combat this problem as they stimulate one’s ability to think, remember and store information. The following is a list of games designed to train elderly people’s memory.


Spot the difference games

These games are very well known, especially among children, but are regarded as one of the most effective to stimulate elderly people’s brains. They train the receptivity and ability to analyze by looking at two seemingly identical images and looking for differences in the small details. There are electronic spot the difference games but they can also be printed off the Internet.


Cross word puzzles

Cross word puzzles are an old favorite among the elderly. Most elderly people don’t even know, however, that their hobby is better for their memory than they might think. Cross word puzzles are an excellent way to stimulate one’s brain by looking for unknown words. This stimulus is food for the brain that results in the brain craving more and more of it. In their traditional form, cross word puzzles are easy to find – in magazines or electronic form.


Card games and Dominoes

Card games and Dominoes require players to think of a winning strategy. This promotes one’s ability to concentrate, think and, in turn, memorize. Apart from these benefits, these games promote community as they are played with other people, as part of a group.


Memory

This game can be played alone but it is much more fun to compete with others. The goal is to find pairs of picture cards that are distributed across the table and always stay in the same place. If they want to win the game, the players have to store information. Furthermore, it promotes a healthy sense of competition.

How can elderly people be motivated to play games?

Without a doubt these games can be extremely helpful, but it is not always easy to convince a person of advanced age to participate in such an activity. This is why it is important to find out if the person in question suffers from a more serious limitation that makes them ashamed or prevents them from fully taking part in a game. One of the main causes is hearing loss, which increasingly makes people avoid interaction.

This condition must be treated adequately, for instance with hearing aids that allow people to recover their hearing and re-integrate into social groups.

An elderly person’s interest can also be aroused by making the moment something special, funny or inspiring. For this purpose, you might want to involve family members and create a pleasant environment. Don't be too strict when playing and avoid helping the elderly person out if they fail to complete a task the first time.

Many people don't know how important memory games are for people of advanced age but their effectiveness is a fact and they help thousands of people with healthy aging.

The best thing about this is that they are an affordable solution for everyone, both in financial terms and concerning their implementation. Invest in memory games for elderly people and make aging easier for your loved ones!