Surely you’ve seen the reports. In recent years, survey after survey has reported that people fear dementia more than death. Such reports have helped spawn a growing industry of companies claiming their online puzzles, quizzes and games can help reverse cognitive decline and stave off dementia.
So can these brain games really help? It depends on whom you ask. An article in the April 5 issue of the New Yorker titled Brain Games are Bogus pretty much leads with the conclusion. According to the reporter, an analysis of 23 different memory training research projects found that, while scores on the memory tests improved over time, participants did not report any change in their functional cognitive ability.
Three months later, in a New Yorker article titled Mentally Fit (July 29), reporter Patricia Marx reported on her own investigation into the efficacy of brain games. After six weeks of “training” an hour each day on mental agility tests, she reported that her “mood brightened,” she slept better and she felt more confident. Her test scores improved over the six-week period, she wrote, but “I’m not sure I noticed my newfound cognitive abilities in my everyday life.”
At Village Green Retirement Campus, we don’t know if online games and puzzles help prevent or delay the onset of dementia or not. What the research shows, and what we have seen, is that people who stay active mentally, physically and socially tend to age more gracefully.
Our weekly calendar is filled with opportunities for residents to exercise their bodies and their brains, and enjoy the company of friends while doing so. There are dozens of possibilities every week: join our water exercise class for a low-impact, high-energy workout; learn a new song in a group sing-along; head out with friends for a field trip to a local museum; match wits with friends in a spirited game of Jeopardy.
If you enjoy playing online games, by all means, do so. There are plenty of websites, such as AARP, that offer free games. If you want to be more systematic and sign up for a mental agility training program, check out what is being offered at Cogmed, Lumosity, Fit Brains, CogniFit, MindSparke or MyBrainSolutions, to name just a few. They certainly can’t hurt and may well have some benefits.
On the other hand, the best way to stay active—mentally and physically—is to be active. At Village Green Retirement Campus, we make sure you have plenty of opportunities to do just that. We’d love to have you join us.