How Brain Games Can Help Seniors Recovering from Stroke

The risk of stroke increases with age, making seniors, who suffer from 75% of all strokes, particularly vulnerable. Strokes can cause a myriad of unfortunate effects, including speech difficulty, memory loss, and impaired cognition. Cognitive, web-based intervention programs and other interactive games can significantly improve depression, stress, in addition to cognitive flexibility, memory, dexterity and problem solving. Other cognitive games, like certain board games, may also provide benefits, though these often require the social engagement of other participants.

Games and Activities to Improve Cognition in Stroke Survivors:

  • Puzzle Apps: There are several puzzle games available on the internet or through the Apple or Android e-stores which may offer benefits to seniors recovering from stroke. But beware of apps that may make false claims about their efficacy. Instead, apps that provide basic puzzle games like sudoku or digital puzzles may provide the most benefit.
  • Brain Teasers: Easily found in the checkout aisle of grocery stores, crossword, word search, or sudoku puzzle books can be a great way to exercise the brain for stroke patients. These affordable and engaging puzzles encourage the engagement of quantitative reasoning, problem solving, and analytical thinking.
  • Arts and Crafts: Activities like drawing, painting, coloring, or stitching are not only fun, but they stimulate creativity, analysis, and promote hand-eye coordination. For those seniors who don’t enjoy puzzles, or who lack the confidence to do them, arts and crafts can be a great way to begin strengthening those skills.

Including Caregivers in the Activities:

While these individual activities may improve memory and cognition in senior stroke survivors, research suggests that the best way to improve these skills is to enlist the participation of other people, which could include other family members or homecare caregivers. Social integration plays a critical role in recovery after stroke, and having a consistent social group can decrease the incidence of recurrent stroke and mortality, but there are other key benefits of including caregivers into the brain-game routine.

  • Added Variety: With a greater number of participants, more brain stimulating games are available to recovering seniors. They are no longer limited to a virtual platform or a book of crossword puzzles, and different games like Scrabble, Chess, or cards played, for example, with home healthcare aids or home care companions can provide new and interesting ways to engage the brain.
  • Benefits to Adherence: With a regular schedule and added accountability from another person or multiple people, seniors recovering from stroke will be more likely to adhere to these activities for 30 minutes or more. Solo activities can become tedious and boring, but participating in activities with others makes these games more fun and encourages repetition.

Games and brain teasers can provide numerous benefits to seniors recovering from stroke. While in-phone apps and puzzle books can improve cognition, reasoning, and hand-eye coordination alone, seniors are more likely to stick with these brain-training activities with the inclusion of other participants. Seniors and homecare caregivers should work together to set aside time for socialization and fun. Even one 30-minute game each day can do wonders for stroke recovery and brain stimulation.

Allcare Home Health Agency, Inc. provides in-home assistance in the Raleigh/Durham area. Contact us today for information.

Works Cited:
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Stroke: Stalker of our aging population. MUSCH Health | Charleston SC. (n.d.).,one%20American%20every%2040%20seconds.
Tham, X. C., Phua, V. J. X., Ho, E. K. Y., Yan, T., Chen, N. Y. C., Zuo, L., … & Dong, Y. (2023). Train-your-brain program to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress in stroke survivors: a pilot community-based cognitive intervention study. Frontiers in Neurology, 14.
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