Are you keeping your brain active during this season of staying safe at home? Brain exercises and games that bring you joy are great ways to boost your mental health by keeping your brain active. If you enjoyed in-person games of bingo or bridge a few months ago, use this time at home to keep your brain sharp and ready to dominate once it’s safe to gather in groups again! Here are 4 fun brain activities to try:
If you love Scrabble, you must give Bananagrams a try! Bananagrams promote visual processing and memory recall. It is a board-free game consisting purely of letter tiles that come in a fun banana-shaped bag, allowing you to create words by yourself (though as many as 8 people can play).
This large-tile version is perfect for seniors, as the letters are easier to see and the pieces are easier to handle. You can simply pull tiles out of the bag and form words at your own pace, or you can set a timer and race the clock! Set out the words in rows if you wish, or arrange them in an intersecting grid (like Scrabble). Check out this page for instructions on how to play with more people once social distancing is no longer required.
- Card game apps
You’ve likely heard your grandkids mention apps on their phone. They’re referring to programs such as music platforms, games, photo editing tools, and more. There are thousands of apps (short for applications) to choose from, which can be overwhelming! Start with a familiar card game, or tackle a new-to-you game for an extra brain challenge.
Either way, playing cards is a fabulous way to keep your brain active, and it even lowers stress! Ask your caregiver or a family member to show you how to download card games such as solitaire, spider solitaire, bridge, pinochle, cribbage, and mahjong.
- Jigsaw puzzles
Puzzles have been a go-to activity for many these past few months. According to an article posted by the AARP, “puzzle makers say sales are up 300-370% over what they were this time a year ago.” The article goes on to share stories from many adults who are finding that puzzles provide a way to relax and quiet their minds. One, a retired pediatric neurologist, turned to jigsaw puzzles to relieve stress and appreciates how they have sharpened her cognitive skills and visual attention. She says in the article, “When you’re working on a puzzle, you can’t worry about anything else,” she says. “You can’t let other thoughts intrude. It’s almost like meditation for me.”
There are a variety of puzzle sizes for seniors with different abilities. Check out this 35 piece winter scene, a 100 piece bird puzzle, or a 300 piece coastal scene — all of which come with extra-large pieces for easy handling.
- Adult coloring books
Coloring might sound like a childish activity, but you might be surprised just how much you enjoy it as an adult! Adult coloring books have been popular for some time now, as people have come to recognize the relaxation benefits of coloring. Like doing puzzles, coloring relaxes the brain, offers a sense of escape, and takes your attention away from the stress of the outside world. Plus, it keeps your brain active as you focus on the page in front of you and use fine motor skills to fill in the picture.
There are a ton of options available, so consider what type of images you would most enjoy coloring — from birds, flowers, landscapes, geometric shapes, inspirational sayings, and more. We love this home and garden coloring book, which will appeal to your inner interior decorator and gardener, this mix of nature and animal patterns, and this book filled with quilt patterns to color.
The beauty of these activities is that they don’t require much to create a good time. Consider setting up a routine to make sure you’re taking time to relax and have fun (while also keeping your brain active)! For example, sip on your afternoon tea while you work on a jigsaw puzzle or listen to music and color as a way to wind down in the evening.