More and more evidence keeps on cropping up showing that challenging mental activities, like playing certain computer games, can help slow cognitive decline due to the aging and “may” even improve the brain function of dementia sufferers. That’s great news but, here’s a true or false, now a days most computer games are intense slaughter-fests geared for young males high on testosterone.
You may be surprised to hear that the answer is False. Think how many people you know who play games like Bejeweled, Spider Solitaire, Tetris, or the Candy Crush series. There are a wealth of computer games out there that can exercise the mind without featuring distasteful content or overwhelming gameplay. We’re going to share a few of them here.
This ‘hidden object’ game is based on the classic novel The Great Gatsby, the player experiences the story of the novel while collecting objects and solving puzzles. The game is challenging but not overwhelming, offering a mental workout rather than a frustrating exercise in failure. The controls should be familiar to anyone who uses a modern computer, just point and click.
For someone who loves the idea of flying, FlightGear is an open-source flight simulator that allows anyone to pilot a plane from the safety of their computer desk. As a simulator FlightGear exercises many of the mental skills needed by real pilots such as spatial reasoning, hand-eye coordination, and cognitive processing speed. It can be downloaded for free or purchased on CD.
SimCity Societies offers some excellent opportunities for mental exercise by giving players the task of creating unique cities and the challenge of keeping them growing through solid management. The latest in a long line of ‘city building’ simulators, SimCity Societies takes the traditional formula and simplifies it; building a city is as fun and challenging as ever but the complicated micro-management of previous titles has been cut back, resulting in streamlined and intuitive gameplay.
Unlike the other games we’re recommending, CogniFit Personal Coach is actually designed to act as a Brain Fitness Program. Scientifically designed, this software suite assesses the player’s cognitive abilities and then chooses appropriate exercises to help keep them up to par. CogniFit also offers a Senior Driver exercise program designed to help keep the driving skills of aging adults sharp.
We hope that this small sample of mentally exercising computer games was helpful to you. For information on teaching seniors how to use computers, check out Digital Grandparents, Inc. a non profit committed to providing older adults with access to the wonders of computers and the Internet!