As many people age they suffer forms of mental decline. Research shows if a person keeps their brain active it can hold off that mental decline and even generate new brain cells. One way to do this is to act like a child again and play some games.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, staying mentally active increases your brain’s health and a good way to do that is to play games. These games can include crosswords, Sudoku puzzles, or the popular Chinese game mahjong.
Experts like Alfred Chan of Hong Kong’s Lingnan University believe mentally-stimulating games like mahjong delay the onset of dementia. The belief is that these games stimulate the parts of the brain that control both memory and cognitive abilities. As people age, if they play games, it forces them to retain memories while keeping track of pieces on a chess board or cards played during a game of bridge.
Experts believe mahjong is especially effective because it has complex rules and calculating the score is also mentally demanding. Additionally, the game is social – it is generally played between four people. The requirement to interact with others is helpful in that it wards off loneliness and depression, which can also make a person more vulnerable to dementia.
Just playing a game can boost a person’s self-esteem. If you win, whether you play for money or not, it gives you a sense of empowerment. That sense of purpose keeps the brain engaged.
- Memory Arts, LLC developed a list of other games and activities that stimulate the brain:
- Juggling: This requires focus, coordination and speed.
- Dancing: Even non-strenuous activity on the dance floor requires remembering movements and coordination with another person.
- Timed memory games like Simon.
- Puzzles, including brain teasers from Mensa (the genius society), or a large jigsaw puzzle.
- The Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinnect: Both get people moving, require hand-eye coordination and often include games that require people to deduce how to overcome challenges.
For more ways to stay mentally active, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website: http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_stay_mentally_active.asp.