Keep your brain engaged with these brain sharpening aps


Hearing aids can help slow cognitive decline. Looking for other ways to keep your brain sharp? Studies show that people who engage in video games are less likely to develop brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping your mind active and learning new things can keep your brain in good shape—it’s as important as physical exercise. Here are YourHearing’s top apps for brain games that can help you stay fit mentally.

Lumosity. According to developers, playing this popular game, just once a day can improve mental skills, including memory, problem solving and processing speed, especially in older adults.  Users can track progress and compare performance with others. Split into sessions of three games—the app is tailored to goals you set, including memory, attention, problem solving, processing speed or flexibility of thinking.

Personal Zen. Developed by researchers from Hunter College and the City University of New York, this game may help reduce anxiety by training the brain to focus on the positive and not on the negative.  Players follow two characters, one who looks relaxed and friendly and one who looks angry, as they bury themselves through the grass. The goal is to train your brain to focus on the glass half full (happy face), distracting your brain from all the negative thoughts that are causing you increased stress. Researches claim that even one session of this game, specifically before a stressful event, may help build positive effects.

Brain Trainer Special. Players choose their difficulty level from this app’s collection of many games designed to keep the player’s mind in good shape and sharpen mental skills. Games include letter sequences, memory trainer, tricky colors, speedy shapes, Sudoku, phone numbers and math games.

Brain Fitness Pro. This game includes a series of memory training exercises meant to increase focus, memory, problem-solving and cognitive skills for the long term. Exercises start out with a simple sequence of squares on a grid that users are asked to remember and repeat, and as training proceeds, users are asked to follow more complex patterns and recognize repeating elements in those patterns. The app recommends starting at 15 minutes a day and increasing your time to 30 minutes within the first two weeks, 4 or 5 times per week and for a minimum of two months for optimal results. 

Happify. This app can help train your brain to be happier, by helping you take control of your emotional well being. Using the app’s quizzes, polls and a gratitude journal along with a positive community of users, individuals are taught helpful habits to improve their life. Users can choose from more than 30 tracks, including conquering negative thoughts, coping better with stress, building self-confidence, fueling career success and achieving mindfulness through meditation. 

Fit Brain Trainer. Users can choose from more than 360 games and puzzles to improve mental agility. Games target all six major areas of the brain, including memory, speed of thinking, concentration, problem solving, language and visual-spatial in four key areas—self-control, self-awareness, social awareness and social skills. The app also targets emotional intelligence (EQ)—which is the ability to be aware of and manage your own and other people’s emotions. Performance tools help users keep track of their progress and training recommendations help players achieve positive results.

Eidetic. Using a technique called spaced repetition, this game helps players memorize everything from important phone numbers to words or facts. The app is unique, in that it uses items that have meaning and context, like phone numbers in your contact list, your bank account details or words, quotes or facts you find interesting. Notifications remind you when it’s time to test yourself and spaces out tests over time (one day, two weeks or one month) to make sure you retain the information in long-term memory, known as the ‘spacing effect'.

Dakim BrainFitness is a computer program created especially for boomers, aimed at sharpening memory and language abilities. The game says it helps users remember facts, lists, names and faces more easily, organize thoughts more rapidly, perform complex calculations and more. Games include the Hopkins verbal learning test to help players remember words after incremental time delays, the Wechsler memory test helping users measure their ability to understand written passages and the Johns Hopkins University dysgraphia test to test users’ oral spelling skills.

ReliefLink. This award-winning app can be used to track things that are relevant to your mental health, like your daily mood, thoughts and feelings. It also includes coping methods, including voice-recorded mindfulness messages, relaxation exercises and relaxing music. Individuals can use the map locator to find nearby therapists, support groups and mental health treatment facilities, can create a safety plan and can make a list of reminders for appointments, medications and more. Use this app to create a profile that includes information with your mental health professional’s contact information, insurance coverage and current medications.  If you’re feeling down, the app can remind you to go through your safety plan, and links you directly to emergency help, including local crisis access services and live chat and hotlines at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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