Games Nourish the Brain

What if it were possible to exercise and stave off aspects of aging without leaving your chair? Wouldn’t it be great to feel better and be more mentally alert without breaking a sweat? Break out the games and turn off the T.V.

Researchers have found that people who play some type of game at least every other day, achieved higher results on memory tests then the less cerebrally active.

Seniors make up 14% of the American population and are now out-pacing every other demographic in growth. There are more folks turning 65 then there are being born. With a population older than any time in US history, health care costs will rise because of the number of seniors who need help with age related dementia. It is imperative that we keep our brains healthy.

According to Dr. Laura Carstensen director of the Center on Longevity at Stanford University, “The aging mind is slower and more prone to error…memory suffers, in particular working memory.” Growing older is part of the problem, however there are steps to slow the onset of “senior moments.”

Although it has not been shown conclusively that card games or crossword puzzles will stop dementia, it is know that playing games and being active mentally will lower the risk for age related dementia. And it’s never too late to start. Prashanthi Vemuri of the Mayo Clinic says, “In terms of preventing mental impairment, intellectually stimulating activity during mid to late life is important.”

And to help sweeten the pot a recent study conducted by the National Institute on Health has shown that training to improve cognitive abilities in older people lasted to some degree 10 years after the training program was completed. Not only will mental activities slow the process of an aging brain, the stimulation of the neurons is long lasting. It’s exercise for the brain through fun.

As you can do cardio work, or weight training, or yoga for your body, there are many approaches to having a healthy brain. Learn a skill that requires good hand eye coordination, such as painting or knitting. Try doing math in your head, or draw a map from memory. What was the floor plan of the house you grew up in?

The battle against the encroaching decline that occurs in aging is one we fight every day. Fight the good fight by arming yourself with games, puzzles, fun, and stimulation.

For more information on brain health and links to resources, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website.