If I were to ask you to imagine a person playing a game on a smartphone, I am guessing that you would picture a teen or millennial. If you find yourself nodding in agreement, you might be surprised to know that nearly 25% of people ages 65+ say that they regularly play games on mobile devices.1
Did you know that playing digital games comes second to outdoor activities as far as therapeutic benefits go? Perhaps surprisingly, playing digital games is more effective than physical activity in slowing age and disease-related cognitive decline in older adults.1
Some of the health benefits of playing digital games include improved motor function, increased processing speed, quicker reaction time, and enhanced focus.1
When playing digital games, players use their eyes to see what is happening on the screen and coordinate hand/finger movements for successful gameplay. Over time, with practice motor abilities can improve.1
The fast pace of some digital games requires players to process information on the screen quickly to keep up with the game. This strengthens the centers of the brain responsible for comprehension, increasing the rate at which information is processed. Because players must respond rapidly to game prompts, it also helps to speed up reaction time. Increased information processing and faster reaction time can mean an improvement in brain fog and sluggishness.1
Another age-related issue is the ability to maintain focus. Digital games require selective attention, which is the process of focusing solely on something for a specific period of time. Selective attention can improve with regular play of digital games, which can enhance the ability to maintain focus in other areas of life.1
In addition to cognitive and health benefits, digital games can provide social opportunities. Games can be played solo, but many games offer options to play with friends or other gamers. Improvement in quality of life is one of the distinctive benefits of digital games. Seniors report feeling more connected and less lonely after playing with others.3
Perhaps one of the best things about digital games is that it is cost-effective. There is no need for specialized games to get the health benefits. Something as simple and standard as the digital version of solitaire or jigsaw puzzles can help seniors keep their brains healthy.
Many games are free but may come with ads or can be purchased and are ad-free. Generally, older adults prefer quizzes, puzzles, and card games. These have their own cognitive benefits, but, if you really want to get more out of the experience, it is great to try something new. The more novel the experience, the more the brain will have to work to get the hang of it.2
So, if you or the seniors in your life have not discovered the joys of using your cell phones or tablets to play games yet, it might be time to try!
Check out the links in the list below for free games for Apple and Android operating systems.
Flipflop Solitaire – A new twist on the old classic. In this game, you can stack down, up, or even both ways on a single stack, but be careful, you can only move a stack of a single suit. Download it at Flipflop Solitaire – Apps on Google Play or Flipflop Solitaire on the App Store (apple.com).
Pocket Run Pool – No pool table? No problem! In Pocket Run Pool, the goal is to sink all the balls, but where and when you sink them is what matters most. Download it at Pocket Run Pool – Apps on Google Play or Unblock Me on the App Store (apple.com).
Bubble Pop- A classic shooter game. Aim and shoot to burst and drop all the bubbles. Clear the board and win coins. Download from Bubble Pop! Puzzle Game Legend – Apps on Google Play or ™ Bubble Pop on the App Store (apple.com).
Scrabble Go – A Scrabble game that you can play with a friend in the next room or around the world. Download it at Scrabble® GO-Classic Word Game – Apps on Google Play or Scrabble® GO – New Word Game on the App Store (apple.com)
New York Times Games – A lot more than just the crossword! Spelling Bee, Wordle, Connections, Letter Box, Tiles, Vertex and Suduko. Find these games on the New York Times website at The Crossword – The New York Times (nytimes.com).
The Province Puzzles and Games – More games can be found at Puzzles and Games | The Province.
At CBAL, we offer tech support and a variety of digital literacy programs. For more information about programs in your community, contact your local Community Literacy Outreach Coordinator.
Community Literacy Outreach Coordinator – Salmo
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy
- Best iPhone and iPad Games For The Elderly – 17 Awesome Picks – Tips for happy family (tipsforfamilies.com)
- Benefits of playing video games for seniors | Lifeline ®
- Can Mobile Games Benefit Older People? – Digital Aptech
- Best Online Games for Seniors | Free & Mind Stimulating Games (assistinghands.com)