Online games slash dementia risk


For older adults, cognitive illness like dementia is a common but unfortunate part of the ageing process. In fact, an estimated 5.6 million people who are 65 years of age or older have Alzheimer’s disease and other similar cognitive deficiencies, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Fortunately, recent research into discovering ways to avoid or lessen the impact of degenerative conditions like dementia has shown that there are activities that can significantly impact whether or not you develop these symptoms as you age. In the 2020 study which was published in the Behavioural Brain Research journal, researchers discovered that playing games for a minimum of 30 minutes daily could significantly reduce the risk of cognitive impairment in older adults.

Two-dimensional games like Spider, which is a popular version of solitaire, were tested alongside dynamic flat-play games like Angry Birds and video games built in a 3D environment like Super Mario. The participants, aged 60 to 80, played these games for a duration of 30 to 45 minutes daily for four weeks, with researchers performing consistent memory tests during and after the gameplay period. 

The result of this was while there was consistency in the memory of players at the start of the experiment, a few weeks after playing any of these games, there was an improvement in the cognition level and memory function of participants. Playing certain games like solitaire can be highly stimulating to the brain, especially for older adults.

“Computer solitaire is my game. Yes, it is an addiction but not a waste of time because it’s a tranquillizer that is not harmful to my health,” said Heddy Kulka, a 90-year-old woman to the New York Times.

“At 90, I find it a pleasant way to delay dementia because it stimulates the brain. You compete against yourself and never have to find an opponent of equal or higher level.”

Additionally, the author of the study argued that the mental improvements from playing games could be beneficial to people of all ages, especially those who are unable to frequently stimulate their brain from social interactions due to being homebound or physically impaired.