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When you run a senior living community, you should always provide a variety of fun and engaging activities that help residents exercise their most important muscle – the brain. That’s where nursing home games come in. Just as seniors need social stimulation for comfort and happiness, they also need mental stimulation to stay sharp and alert in advanced age.

In fact, numerous studies prove that nursing home games have a positive impact on senior wellbeing. In a study of 469 seniors over 75 throughout a 21 year period, researchers found that those who took part in games and leisure activities about 4 times per week were two thirds less likely to get Alzheimer’s.

Nursing homes games should include more than puzzles and board games – otherwise residents, and their visitors, will get bored…fast. A crucial component of any successful and thriving nursing home is a collection of exciting brain games – including a selection of digital games.

From the classics to the brand-new games on the market, here are the brain games no nursing home should be without:

  • Crossword – Crossword puzzles are ideal nursing home games for several reasons. Crossword puzzles engage multiple areas of the brain, as they require cognitive memory skills, word and vocabulary skills, and geometric and spatial reasoning. In addition, crosswords puzzles are quite inexpensive and can be purchased in large volumes. Crossword puzzles are great nursing home games because they can take an hour or more to finish, so they keep seniors occupied for a long period of time and provide an immediate sense of satisfaction once the puzzle itself is filled out. Crossword puzzles should also be provided to residents in varying levels of difficulty. For example, the beloved New York Times crossword series are available in books that start with the easy days their crosswords are released (Monday and Tuesday) and get increasingly harder (Saturday and Sunday). Be sure to keep your “library” of crossword puzzles, and all nursing home games, up to date and fresh so seniors look forward to seeing what’s new.
  • Word Find – Finding puzzles that are proven to slow dementia and awaken the cognitive abilities of the brain is key to providing worthwhile nursing home games for seniors. With the speed and efficiency of word find puzzles, seniors can flex their mental muscles in a relatively short period of time. The spelling, spatial reasoning, and logic aspects of word find puzzles provide many benefits to the brain. One particular perk is the relative speed with which a senior can finish these nursing home games. Unlike other brain games (like crossword puzzles), word finds won’t become potentially frustrating as it’s difficult to get bogged down.
  • Scrabble – When it comes to board games, Scrabble should be the go-to choice for nursing home games…here’s why: The social aspect of the game adds another dimension to a challenge that already stretches memory sectors of the brain. Scrabble allows seniors to strategize and utilize mental calculation. Seniors that enjoy Scrabble can maintain a group within their nursing home that regularly meets and plays the game weekly. It’s not enough to just set out nursing home games on tables. You should help bring seniors together by facilitating a Scrabble “club.” It’s a terrific way to fight loneliness and depression, and is a great way to proactively address the isolation a senior may feel after transitioning into living at a nursing home.
  • Trivia – Trivia stands out among nursing home games for its fun factor but it also promotes healthy senior minds. Engaging in fun trivia games is a terrific way for Alzheimer’s sufferers to keep their mind firing at all cylinders. It’s proven to help combat the onset of dementia, especially when the trivia topics relate to the player’s formative years. For nursing homes, playing trivia in groups allows seniors to socialize while exercising their brain. Digital trivia systems like Buzztime ensure that the fun never stops, and that seniors can interact with the game as smoothly as possible. Because the trivia is digital, there is a nearly endless supply of questions, ensuring that seniors won’t get bored! With these brain-boosting nursing home games and trivia in your arsenal, you can provide mentally stimulating activities that every resident at your nursing home will enjoy.
  • Racing Games – Video games aren’t just for the grandchildren! Seniors who play digital nursing home games can enjoy the thrill of a virtual race around the track, too. Racing games are especially beneficial for seniors with a major scientific study showing that they can dramatically improve memory, attention, and multi-tasking skills. Plus, digital nursing home games can be social, too. Residents can challenge each other to see who can go the fastest, and watch each other play.
  • First Person Games – To help seniors improve their eyesight, set your sights on offering first person games. In a study by McMaster University in Toronto, these games provided both physical and mental benefits. The study showed that after playing a first-person shooting game, seniors had better facial recognition of others, and were able to read smaller print. First person games also help seniors stay alert and engaged in the nursing home games they are playing as they must stay alert and engaged with the game.

It’s important to note that digital nursing home games can provide an even bigger benefit for seniors as they boost motor skills, coordination, and wellbeing. As today’s baby boomers age, nursing home games should evolve to meet their demands and comfort level with digital technology. In fact, having the latest digital games and trivia can be a selling point for new residents.

For example, a study by Indiana University revealed that nursing home games can ward off depression. And another study by the Gerontological Society of America’s Annual Scientific Meeting found that seniors who played digital nursing home games for an hour felt more positive and less lonely than the seniors who watched TV for an hour instead. When it comes to nursing home games, senior living community managers should encourage residents to grab a game controller – instead of a remote controller.