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Joy Loverde

Professional Eldercare Expert

Best Brain Fitness Games & Brain Exercises

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Getting older brings a number of physical changes and yet time is something we CAN bargain with. As the aging-process clock just keeps on ticking, more and more people are putting the effort in now to pump up their brain power and preserve mental vigor. The best anti-aging remedy doesn’t come in a jar; it’s daily doses of cognitive exercise. Simply put, if we put our mind to work, our brain cells will find a way to stay fit.

As we age, chemical changes in the brain affect memory and learning. On the bright side, staying active mentally and sharpening mental skills will help offset age-related mental decline. Numerous medical research studies suggest that consistent, long-term mental stimulation is essential to reducing the risk of memory loss and dementia. In other words, thinking intensely on a regular basis rewires our brain and helps us concentrate and remember things.

At the Fourth International Brain Education Conference, held at the United Nations in New York City, Ilchi Lee, president of the International Brain Education recently explained, “Everything depends on how well we operate the brain, and how deeply we can trust it.” As the ultimate means to access our unlimited human potential, brain education can play a major role in determining the future of humanity and the earth.

And here’s even more food for thought. We’ve known all along that we are what we eat, and when heath experts encourage us to add sardines, blueberries, walnuts, broccoli, red wine, and foods rich in antioxidants to our daily diet, they are also taking into consideration the positive effects food has on sustaining and improving memory and cognitive activities, and even promoting the growth of new nerve cells.

Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, Professor of Neurosurgery at UCLA, explains that there are foods to stay away from that can cause damage to many systems in the brain, including memory. Gomez-Pinilla explains that junk foods high in saturated fats have been shown to negatively impact the synapses of the brain.

That being said, the idea here is not to dictate what you should eat and drink for a healthier brain. Instead, you may want to consider the consequences of a history of bad eating habits and the consumption of junk food, and the short and long-term effect of the choices you are making. Yes, you CAN have your cake and eat it, too. According to the experts, the right dietary changes have IMMEDIATE brain payoffs at any age.

What’s also encouraging is that experts tell us that older brains can learn new tricks. “The mind has a crucial advantage over the body,” says Roger Landry, M.D., President of Masterpiece Living. Dr. Landry explains that cognitive research has shown that the brain can continue to renew cells throughout a person’s lifetime. “Whether you’re nine or ninety, you can learn and you can grow - it may just take a little longer.“

If you are contemplating a brain fitness regimen, your first course of action is to determine which product is best for you. Consider the following key questions when evaluating a brain fitness program:

1) What are the credentials of the people who designed the program?
2) Has the program been tested in rigorous scientific studies?
3) Is the program proven effective?
4) Does this program compliment my current lifestyle?

Does exercising the brain really work? While it’s difficult for anybody to say that a specific amount of exposure to any of the brain-fitness products on the market is going to benefit them many years from now, there’s no downside to staying mentally active. However, experts agree on two key requirements: You must do the exercises consistently. And they shouldn’t be too easy.

So do the bright thing and flex your mental muscles today.

Best Bets for Brain Fitness by Joy Loverde

The Best You Can Get

  • [m]Power by Dakim

    Joy says: Fun, feature-filled, and virtually maintenance-free, [m]Power is a complete turnkey cognitive exercise system, providing a challenging, entertaining, and enjoyable mental workout every day. What is most appealing is the top-quality production values and touch screen technology (no keyboard or mouse needed!). Even if they’ve never sat down at a computer, your elderly loved ones can become [m]Power experts in no time.

    The Dakim [m]Power provides senior-friendly brain-building activities that are presented in a game show-like format, updated every few days, and played on a touch screen computer appliance that requires no mouse, keyboard, computer knowledge, or software loading by care providers. The system self-adjusts the level of challenge for ability levels ranging from active seniors to early-stage Alzheimer’s patients.

    Memory-invoking images, movies, music, and sounds of the past, help to keep minds sharp and spirits high. Activities range from anagrams and name-that-tune challenges to interactive puzzles and narrated literary passages with follow-up questions. Colorful screen images, stories, voiceovers, film and music clips that tap into seniors’ memory banks, and a constant supply of new exercises keep users engaged and encourage sustained use. Demos of assorted [m]Power exercises are available online.

    • Home version
  • Brain Age 2

    Joy says: Train your brain in minutes a day. Brain Age 2 offers a multitude of engaging and diverse activities designed to give your brain a real work out – from playing simple songs on a piano keyboard to deciding the winner of a photo finish footrace.

    On your first day of exercise, you will take a series of tests and get a score that determines how old your brain is. This number is called your DS Brain Age. Perform daily exercises just minutes a day over weeks and months to get better at the exercises and lower your DS Brain Age. Also, the expanded multiplayer program lets you compete with family and friends.

    Brain Age is inspired by the research of Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, a prominent Japanese neuroscientist. His studies evaluated the impact of performing certain reading and mathematic exercises to help stimulate the brain.

  • Brain Fitness Program

    Joy says: Got fifteen minutes a day for a brain tune up? The Brain Fitness Program features six easy to use computer-based exercises for use on a PC or Mac. The exercises adapt to individual level, and give constant feedback about progress.

    Much of the important information we take in each day — and that we want to respond to, remember, and use later — comes in through speech. The Brain Fitness Program improves the quality and quantity of the information your brain absorbs from your ears.

    The Brain Fitness Program is designed to speed up auditory processing, improve working memory, and encourage the brain to produce more of the chemicals that help it remember.

    • by Posit Science
  • MindFit

    Joy says: Turn your computer into a brain-fitness gym. A one-time purchase gets you some serious brain training, with games tailored for various cognitive functions. MindFit brain training software is specifically aimed at ages 45 and up. No need for an Internet connection, a wide variety of stimulating exercises can be downloaded from a CD-ROM.

    Individually designed fun exercises claim to improve short-term memory, reaction times, memory recall, and eye-hand coordination. Advanced software follows your learning curve. As you improve, the software evolves with more challenging brain exercises. No two training sessions are alike.

    MindFit was awarded the ASA/BFA Business and Aging Award and to date is the only brain fitness program scientifically validated by an independent third party. Windows only, no Mac. Sign up to receive the MindFit newsletter packed with activities that you can do at home to keep your mind fit.

  • Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises

    Joy says: Duke University neurobiology professor Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D., and Manning Rubin offer “neurobic” exercises that use our the five senses in a book titled, “Keep Your Brain Alive.”

    From brushing your teeth with your nondominant hand to turning the photographs on your desk upside down, the authors claim that simply doing the same everyday things in a different way stimulates nerve cells in the areas of the brain that are responsible for memory and abstract thought. This book is a sure fire way to get jolted out of automatic pilot.

You will be happy with any of these

  • Big Brain Academy

    Joy says: Fitness board games for the brainiest will keep everyone engaged for hours, and what better way to interact with family members of all ages? Good for ages eight and older, two to six players will be mentally and physically challenged in five categories: Analyze, Compute, Identify, Memorize, and Think. Get the correct answer, collect a token. The team that collects the most tokens wins.

    This game is fast paced with lots of action and lots of laughing. Speed and accuracy count - not smarts - when answering questions at the Big Brain Academy.

    After five rounds of play, teams weigh their chips on the “brain-o-meter” to see which team has the biggest brain. In this game, brain weight matters!

  • HAPPYneuron

    Joy says: If you really like computer games you might enjoy the colorful, varied brain-fitness exercises from HAPPYneuron. Games and puzzles that track your performance is one way to sharpen your mind. The difference is rather than buying a game system, hand-held device or computer software, you can pay a monthly or yearly subscription to access the puzzles and exercises.

    HAPPYneuron offers a series of 28 different computer-game exercises focusing on a number of brain functions, including memory, attention, language, visual/spatial skills, and logic. HAPPYneuron’s creators claim that cross training builds and maintains critical thinking skills. Plus, an online coach encourages you to proceed to the next level if it looks like you’ve mastered a task.

    Suggested playtime is twenty minutes, three times a week. Free trials are available online. And think about this: Subscriptions make nice gifts!

  • The Big Book of Brain Games

    Joy says: Kids of all ages will find “The Big Book of Brain Games: 1,000 PlayThinks of Art, Mathematics & Science,” by Ivan Moscovich and Ian Stewart visually appealing, entertaining, and jam-packed with a collection of brainteasers, puzzles, riddles, and illusions. Open the book on any page and you’re in action. The index at the end of the book helps you choose a brain task according to your type and degree of difficulty.

    Leave this book on your coffee table for hours of fun.

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