My 12-year-old daughter, my 82-year-old father, and all of my 50-something friends are addicted to Wordle. If you don’t yet know about this all-ages word game, I’ll explain. Wordle challenges players each day to guess a five-letter word, with only six attempts to get the correct answer. The game was created by a software engineer from Brooklyn NY to play with his partner for much needed entertainment during the pandemic. It became so popular that it was purchased by the New York Times, and is currently a free digital feature.
One study suggests that adults over 50 who regularly engage in word games, like crosswords, or number puzzles, like sudoku, have brain function equivalent to 10 years younger than their age.
Research at the Mayo Clinic found that older adults who engaged in mentally stimulating activities had decreased incidences of mild cognitive impairment later in life. A study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that doing puzzles and playing word games improves memory, attention, the executive function of the brain and information processing..
If you’re not too frustrated by the game, and you enjoy it. It’s likely to be a stress reliever and can even release dopamine, which is the hormone responsible for making us feel pleasure, optimism, and satisfaction.
Wordle can be played independently, or you can collaborate with a nearby friend or family member. A huge part of the fun is comparing your success rates with your peers. Many word games like Scrabble and Bananagrams attract players of all ages, making them a comfortable, multi-generational bridge.
Problem-solving puzzles require players to be focused and to pay attention. Another great NY Times game is Spelling Bee. In this game you’re given a “hive” of 7 unique letters and asked to make as many words as possible. For people who are experiencing cognitive decline, focus can be a challenge. Spelling Bee can be printed out and played in short, few-minute bursts throughout the day.
An active mind that is occupied with game play, means that there’s limited down time to focus on negative thoughts. While chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and some dementias cannot be miraculously cured, keeping the mind active and busy is a great way to keep active and engaged. If you play word games with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, focus on the fun.