How Brain Games Help Patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Updated: Aug 2
Written By: MKR Senior Health Strategist
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe conditions that present with a decline in cognitive functions. The condition is a chronic or progressive one, caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behavior and ability to perform everyday activities. There are a number of conditions that fall into the spectrum of dementia. These include Alzheimer’s, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, and numerous others. These conditions have different causes, and care for patients with dementia conditions can vary from individual to individual, and case by case. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for between 60–80 percent of all cases. Worldwide, dementia affects the lives of somewhere around 47 million people, and that number is expected to skyrocket to an overwhelming 75 million by the year 2030. The good news, however, is that recent research has found that people may be able to protect themselves against cognitive decline and dementia through brain training.
The Effect of Games on Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment
According to a study published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial of cognitive training using a novel memory game on an iPad in 42 patients with a diagnosis of amnestic mild cognitive impairment. The patients were assigned to two control groups. One group was given routine visits as usual, and the other was assigned cognitive training, consisting of 8 hours of gameplay over a four week period in addition to normal visits. The study found that in the control group which was given cognitive training, episodic memory greatly improved. The study also found that gamified cognitive training may also have the potential to enhance visuospatial abilities in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment.
Thanks to this research, scientists now know that the brain can adapt to change at any age. This process is known as “neuroplasticity.” Brain training aims to strengthen neural connections in a way that maintains or increases cognitive function. While there is no evidence to suggest that brain games for dementia can repair or roll back dementia in individuals who are in more advanced stages, there is cause to believe, however, that brain games may reduce or delay the onset of dementia symptoms.
Furthermore, in a randomized clinical trial funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health of than 2,800 participants were split into control groups in which some were given standard memory exercises, and another group was instructed to practice specific computer training exercises to test how fast they responded to visual stimuli. The findings of the study suggest that older individuals who participated in the speed of processing training across the 10-year period were, on average, as much as 29 percent less likely to develop dementia impairment. While there is research must still be done in order to verify the findings of these studies, early research shows that there is promise for delaying or preventing the onset of dementia through the use games that exercise problem-solving and visuospatial skills.
Dementia Games to Keep Your Brain Sharp
The evidence shows that in regard to dementia and Alzheimer’s, this is one battle in which the best defense is a good offense. If you or a loved one is advancing in age and are concerned about dependence or cognitive impairment, it’s probably a good idea to take the initiative and have a little fun with thinking and learning games that could help reduce the risk dementia.
There are many great brain games to help keep you sharp and focused, check out some of these top programs to get started on your search for games for dementia patients.
Lumosity is an online program consisting of games claiming to improve memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem-solving. Through the Human Cognition Project, the makers of Lumosity, Lumos Labs collaborates with over 100 leading researchers, clinicians and teachers from institutions around the world and combine many diverse disciplines to create their engaging brain training program.
Dakim is a brain fitness program which offers users a set of games and puzzles designed to help people give their brain a comprehensive workout. The program gives access to over 100 individual brain exercises, all designed to improve attention and concentration. Best of all, you can try it for free on their website.
Clevermind is a bit different from the previously mentioned brain-training games. Clevermind is specifically designed for those already suffering from Alzheimer’s. Clevermind goes beyond simply being a game platform. Clevermind also features social, medical, and dietary tools which are presented in an easy-to-read interface. The app also features a digital assistant who speaks in a Siri-like voice. Clevermind is an amazing app for dementia patients and is available for $1.99 in the iOS App Store.
CogniFit Brain Fitness gives users access to a wide variety of fun, powerful brain games designed by neuroscientists to measure your cognitive function and cognitive skills. CogniFit is a brain training program that adapts to user-specific needs and allows the ability to track progress. If you’re feeling competitive, you can challenge your friends to a bit of head to head competition to find out who is the smartest of the bunch.
Brain matrix is a free web service that helps you “train your brain”. The platform offers a large collection of games designed to help with concentration, color, IQ, spatial intelligence, memory, and creativity to help get your brain in shape. If you have an interest in playing the type of games that strengthen your brain’s fitness in ways that can help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia, then Brain Metrix has games and tasks that fit the bill.
These are just a few examples of games for dementia and Alzheimer’s that could help prevent or delay the onset of the condition. There are many more useful and fun games, and a quick google search for games for people with dementia will doubtless yield a variety of other great results. If you have any suggestions of other dementia games, leave a comment and let us know your best suggestions for keeping your mental acuity sharp.