If you’ve recently retired or are approaching your retirement, have you thought about how you’ll keep your mind active outside of a work environment? With brain power, many experts believe it really is a case of use it or lose it. So, if you don’t keep yours ticking over, could it be a blow for your cognitive powers?

While some people believe that retirement comes at an age when a decline in memory and brain power occurs naturally, many experts disagree. A recent study published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences suggests that the more you want to use your brain and the more you enjoy doing so, the more likely you are to stay sharp as you get older.

The study also found that doing a variety of different cognitive activities helps to boost brain power after retirement – which means for the best results, you should seek out lots of different ways to challenge your mind.

Doing crosswords and other puzzles such as Sudoku can help keep your mind active. But there are also many other types of brain training games and exercises you can access free on the internet. Here are a few you can try right now:

Lumosity is a human cognition project run by a research network that includes experts from top universities around the world, with more than 50 million members from 182 countries taking part. You can play the scientifically developed games for free, or pay a subscription fee for full access. There are games that test and develop your speed, memory, attention, flexibility and problem solving, and even if you don’t sign up for full access you can track your progress and compare it against that of others.

BrainHQ is a brain fitness training programme developed by neuroscientists. It claims to improve how your brain functions with dozens of games and exercises that target memory, attention, brain speed, intelligence and even people skills. Again, you can try it for free or subscribe for full access.

Happy Neuron claims to stimulate the five main cognitive brain functions, namely memory, attention, language, executive functions (reasoning, logical thinking) and visual and spatial skills. Sign up and play the games for free for seven days.

Merriam-Webster – the US dictionary publisher, also offers a range of more conventional online quizzes and games. Be careful however, if you try the spelling games, as they’re based on American, as opposed to British, spelling.

If your memory isn’t quite what it used to be, read our articleEasy ways to boost your memoryfor tips on how to keep your mind more agile.

© CABA 2014

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