After staggering down the steps early in the morning to make coffee, you start playing a game of online chess. Sounds like a funny way to start the day, but this is just one example of how game playing provides mental stimulation. This ten-minute round of speed chess not only provides the player with a snapshot of their mental capabilities – it provides needed mental stimulation to face the rest of the day.
Not everyone is an expert chess player so what other types of games help to maintain a healthy brain? Before we look at specific games let’s talk about how to get the most from game playing.
- Games should be played on a regular basis and not just every now and then.
- Engage in games requiring focus and concentration.
- Participate in games promoting acting or role-playing, conversing, problem solving, reading or writing or involving strategic thinking.
Recommended Board, Card, and Strategy Games for Senior Citizens
Games are not just for children; they provide useful and constructive opportunities to improve mental stimulation and prevent decline (not to mention that playing games is fun). It allows for downtime from structured activities for some, and alleviates social isolation for others. Let’s look at some classics and why they are helpful:
- Scrabble requires quickly assembling words from a group of letters and changes the way you use your brain. The act of anagramming (forming a word of phrase by rearranging letters to form words) gradually affects your ability to solve visual word recognition tasks.
- Mahjong is an ancient Chinese game that strengthens memory and logic skills. Mahjong is a complex game of strategy. It develops the brain and enhances academic performance.
- Dominos is a sequencing game that increases mental flexibility. This game works on executive skills including problem solving and reasoning. Be careful though. This game can become very competitive!
- Checkers (or Chinese Checkers) combines strategy, forethought, spatial geometry and logistics. It can be as simple or as complicated as the player’s skill level.
- Gin Rummy uses both strategy and mathematics. Playing this seemingly simple card game develops problem-solving skills.
- Chess helps to develop logic and strategic skills. Playing chess can actually make you smarter. High schools in some states actually now offer credit for chess classes.
- Bridge is great because it encourages socialization. A study in 2000 at the University of California, Berkeley found strong evidence that an area in the brain used in playing bridge stimulates the immune system. Researchers suggest it is because players must use memory, visualization and sequencing.
- Backgammon helps prevent mental deterioration. Backgammon helps to prevent symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease according to one study published in the journal Neurology.
- Mille Bornes is a card game requiring math, planning, strategic and organizational skills.
Never underestimate the importance of playing games. They provide an opportunity to develop new skills while combating age related changes in the brain. Be the first in your neighborhood to start a senior game group – the benefits will be amazing!
Enrolling in a PACE program offers many benefits from a medical management standpoint. Access to physicians and other clinicians in a setting that provides supervision and safety is the primary reason why participants enroll. The benefits of the recreational activities are why participants stay.
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