Goodbye Senior Moments: Game On

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Screenshot of Lumosity Divided Attention

It comes as no surprise that cognitive decline is widely viewed as a normal aspect of the aging process. While common to experience some decline in cognitive capabilities as we age, a November 2015 study published in the Journal of Post-Acute Medicine and Long-Term Care JAMDA has confirmed that there could significant benefits to quality of life for older people who play games online.

Another study by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience IoPPN at King’s College London determined that in addition to improving memory and reasoning skills, online brain training also improves how older adults do everyday tasks such as managing personal finances, shopping, cooking and navigating public transportation.

I was just vaguely familiar with the concept of brain games. Then in December 2012 our daughter gifted me and my husband a one-year subscription to Lumosity, the online cognitive training program.  I regrettably took my first baseline test after a couple of glasses of holiday wine. Needless to say, I was beyond mortified that my score was one notch above brain-dead. Truth be told, that Lumosity subscription has been far and away our best gift ever.

With my cognitive baseline established, I received daily programs of five different games designed to challenge my memory, attention, flexibility, speed and problem solving. Within days, I found myself eagerly looking forward to playing the games. And within a couple of weeks, my cognitive functioning was clearly improving.

I must confess that online brain games are delightfully addictive. For example, since December 26, 2012 my stats say that I’ve played 8766 games on average 4 times per week. My longest streak is 11 days and I’ve had a grand total of 21 streaks.  Like exercise for your body, there is a direct and causal connection between exercising with brain games and acuity of your mind.

Enormous satisfaction derived from comparing my cognitive performance to peers in my age group (60-64 year old). Conversely,  I am  sorely humbled when comparing my score to my 30 year-old daughter’s age group (30-34 year old). Let’s  suffice to say that cognitive decline with age is indisputable.

That being said, over time my memory fog has nearly completely cleared away, I am resoundingly more alert and my thinking is exponentially sharper.  And after almost three and a half years of playing brain games on an effortlessly and regular basis, I’m proud to say that I’ m close to reaching the top percentile for my age group and my LPI is in the “You’re among the best of the best at Lumosity” category.

Although I remain a staunch devotee of Lumosity, there are different online cognitive training programs available to choose from. But here’s my main point– beyond a shadow of doubt brain games have made an  enormous difference in strengthening cognitive abilities for both me and my husband.

There is no doubt  whatsoever that a powerfully strong correlation exists between exercising our minds and our ability to keep up ideal cognitive functioning as we age.  Based on my long-term experience, brain training is a highly effective method to dissolve the cobwebs in your brain and a perfect remedy for annoying senior moments. Go ahead, get your game on.

Do yourself a favor. Find an online game program that you like and get into the routine habit of exercising your brain.  Expect to be delighted and surprised by the tangibly measurable improvement in your cognitive ability over time.

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