Home Miscellaneous AARP Online Games – 9 Free Alternatives

AARP Online Games – 9 Free Alternatives

by Virginia Fidler
seniors playing video game

Everyone enjoys games. They are usually associated with teenage boys, but many adults now play video games on their phones, tablets, and televisions.This includes many seniors who tap away popping bubbles or solving word games on their phones.

AARP online games are one place many seniors find games to play. However, some people prefer to join alternative organizations to AARP. The good news is there are plenty of free online games similar to (or even better than) AARP’s.

Benefits of Online Gaming for Seniors

We all know why we pick up our phone or sit down at our PC to play video games. They’re entertaining. They’re fun. In many of today’s games, they’re also free. However, seniors can find some other benefits with gaming.

Improves Reaction Time

Aging brings with it some normal consequences, such as slower reaction time. While that is usually nothing to be concerned about, there are times when this can become dangerous, such as when seniors drive.

Studies at the University of Rochester have shown that video games can make players more aware of their surroundings and improve a variety of skills, such as driving. That means that playing online games can become an effective tool for improving the rate at which seniors respond to certain situations.

Improves Cognitive Abilities

It seems they have a positive effect on an aging brain. Most online games involve making judgments and remembering things.

A study at the University of Illinois trained 40 seniors in an online game, while another group received no training. Both groups had their cognitive skills measured before the training, including their ability to move from one task to another, their reasoning ability, and the ability to hold more than one piece of information at a time.

senior woman playing video game

The study showed that the group who played the video games was better at switching between tasks, and their memory and ability to reason also improved. This makes sense. The brain is, after all, a muscle. Exercising it strengthens it.

Improves Self-Confidence

Technology seems to be changing daily, and many older adults feel unable to keep up with what it has to offer and are frequently afraid to try. Studies have revealed that playing games on phones makes seniors more comfortable with learning new technology. While a younger generation may be spending too much time playing on phones, it does offer cognitive benefits to seniors.

Closes a Generational Gap

It has become obvious that different generations have different levels of comfort and familiarity with technology. Seniors are more inclined to go to see a neighbor in person than have text conversations with them over phones.

grandson playing video games with grandfather

Younger users who have been raised with technology are “digital natives.” To them, technology can be as natural as breathing since most of them have never known anything else. You have baby boomers on one end, and iGen on the other.

As seniors become more adept with modern technology, they are discovering a new and improved way of staying in touch with beloved family members and even friends. Playing board games with grandchildren is fun, but playing online games with them can bring the generations together even when they’re not physically close.

The AARP has found that 63 percent of seniors go online to remain connected to loved ones. While families used to live relatively close together, they are more likely to live apart these days, even across the country. That makes playing games with grandchildren a vital tool for communicating with them and allows them to enjoy a common interest.

Improves Mood

Many seniors become less mobile, and simply meeting a friend for dinner can turn into an ordeal. This type of isolation can be very depressing. A study at the North Carolina State University took 140 seniors and asked them about their video game habits. Researchers tested the participants’ emotional wellbeing, with 61 percent playing online games occasionally.

senior couple playing video games

They found that even occasional players had increased emotional wellbeing, while non-players tested for increased negative emotions and depression. Says Dr. Jason Allaire, associate professor at North Carolina State University, “The research published here suggests that there a link between gaming and better well-being and emotional functioning.

We are currently planning studies to determine whether playing digital games improves mental health in older adults.”

May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

A study at the University of California at Irvine discovered that playing online brain games enables seniors up to the age of 80 to function as well cognitively as people who were 50 years younger. These remarkable findings may be critical in the handling of Alzheimer’s Disease among the elderly.

UC Irvine professor Mark Steyvers commented, “The brain is not a muscle, but like our bodies, if we work out and train it, we can improve our mental performance. We discovered that people in the upper age ranges who completed specific training tasks were able to beef up their brain’s ability to switch between tasks in the game at a level similar to untrained 20- and 30-year-olds.”

In other words, the researchers found that seniors who played online games could exceed the cognitive performance of 30-year-olds who did not.

AARP Online Games – Alternatives

Online games are good for seniors, and the AARP must agree as their website has an easy-to-use gaming section. The menu of games can be easily maneuvered and includes the most popular online games. The section also includes rules for the various games to make it easier for seniors to pay.

You don’t have to rely on AARP to get your digital game on, however. There are plenty of alternatives that are fun, competitive, and keep your mind challenged. While most are free, some may charge for upgrades or make you wait through ads.

1) Checkers

Checkers Friends
Checkers is readily available for free online.

Checkfriends.com lets seniors (or anyone) play online checkers with their friends on a virtual chessboard. Since even children can learn checkers, it is a most suitable game for seniors to play with their grandchildren. Checkers has the brain thinking consistently as to the best moves. It encourages players to keep their mind active and in focus while socializing with others online.

Like many online games, checkers allows players to relax and simply enjoy themselves. That alone will lower blood pressure and stress and increase the player’s happiness level.

When grandparents play online checkers with their grandchildren, the young ones learn pre-math skills thanks to the grandparent’s efforts. It is one generation teaching the other, an old-fashioned habit that is enjoying a revival thanks to computers and online games.

2) Chess

Chess
Chess is more fun in person, but if that’s not an option, play online.

Chessgames.com is an online chess community for seniors who want to play chess. Chess has long been recognized as a mentally challenging game, which a handful of “men” who have very distinctive functions.

It is a game that is played against an opponent, and the player must not only develop a strategy of his or her own but be aware and adapt to the opponent’s moves. Playing with someone online is a great way to bond with someone else.

Playing online chess can push the brain’s capabilities to the limits and keep it functioning better. Keeping ones focus on the game can strengthen concentration and relieve stress. The game utilizes both sides of the brain – one to strategize creatively and the other for critical planning and thinking.

3) Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw Puzzles
A modern take on a a class jigsaw.

Thejigsawpuzzles.com contains challenging jigsaw puzzles of every type containing 1,000 pieces that require assembling. Jigsaw puzzles are found in most senior centers for a reason. They come in various levels of difficulty and designs.

For seniors, playing online jigsaw puzzles can improve short-term memory, and connect both the left and right side of the brain, which helps to keep a senior’s thinking sharp, help lower stress levels, and enhance the player’s mood.

4) Mahjong

seniors playing Mahjong
Mahjong can also be played online.

There are several versions of Mahjong available to play online. It’s a tile game that is believed to help seniors suffering from mild dementia. Affiliated Hospital and the Second Clinical Medical College in China studied 56 seniors suffering from the onset of dementia. Half the group played mahjong three times each week while the control group did not.

Researchers found that certain cognitive functions remained static in the control group while the mahjong-playing group showed improvement over 12 weeks. This applied to seniors with brain injury and mild cognitive impairment.

Approximately 10 percent of seniors are affected by mild cognitive impairment, so mahjong may be an important tool to offset cognitive decline. The game requires players to focus on the tiles to win.

In a different study, the researcher of the mahjong research determined that playing mahjong was better at improving the cognitive function in seniors than tai chi, which is an exercise frequently recommended. They determined that mahjong increased seniors’ attention span and logical thinking ability.

5) Scrabble

Scrabble Online
Scrabble can be played online versus strangers or friends.

Scrabble.info offers a word game that can be played online against the computer or with other players. It is the perfect fun game that can enhance brain function and help ward off dementia.

6) Solitaire

Classic Solitaire
Classic Solitaire

The AARP has several versions of online solitaire. The game provides a nice challenge for seniors. It is the ideal game when a senior wants to play by him or herself for a few minutes. It’s the type of game that can be played on one’s phone while waiting at the doctor’s office.

At the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014, it was discussed how card games such as solitaire can be beneficial to Alzheimer’s patients. In a study of 329 seniors over 60 years of age, the seniors received MRI scans and were questioned about their habits, such as playing online solitaire.

The results show that those seniors who did play online solitaire had better memory and larger brain capacity than those who did not. These players also scored higher on cognitive tests.

7) Sudoku

Sudoku
A Soduku game screen.

Sudoku can be enjoyed on iPhones as well as computers. It keeps the mind active and enhances cognitive abilities. I find Sudoku particularly challenging.

8) Tetris

Tetris
Image Credit: tetris.com

The objective of Tetris is to score points by getting rid of horizontal lines of blocks within a grid. Players maneuvers the “tetrominoes” to fill a grid with blocks and then make the line disappear. Placing the tetrominoes in the correct place is challenging and provides an ongoing learning experience.

Players start with simple moves and advance to more advanced strategies. To increase the challenge, the game can be played at a low speed which can increase and become faster and faster. It requires seniors to create constant new strategies and be on constant alert.

9) Word-Making Games

Scramble Words
Word-Making Game

Word games are highly rated by seniors. They require reasoning and memory and are quite entertaining. Seniors can play this as a group to come up with the correct word, which enhances socializing and reduces loneliness. Not all online games are to be played alone.

Conclusion

We begin aging the day we are born. We all age differently, yet many people assume that there is nothing to be done about the aging process. That is a tremendous misconception. Many factors determine how we age, such as exercise, diet, and keeping a positive mental attitude. To quote Bette Davis, “Old age is no place for sissies.”

It is easy for seniors to become isolated and depressed, which is one of the major factors in growing older. Online games are a huge way for seniors to remain active and keep in touch with their friends and families. This can actually help them live longer.

In a study published by Plos Medicine, researchers studied the habits of 148 seniors and determined that those with strong relationship ties had a 50 percent longer life span than those without social connections. That is why online games can be such a critical part of any seniors’ health and wellbeing.

Studies since the mid-20th century have determined that there is much we can do to influence our own aging process, especially dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. There have been many studies that have concluded that keeping the brain stimulated can do much to ward off those diseases or help delay them. And online gaming is one tool that more and more seniors are discovering.

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