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We all know that regular physical exercise helps everyone stay healthier longer. But what about mental exercise?
For seniors, mental exercise like card games, board games, and puzzles can help keep the mind healthy and sharp. The skills used while playing games and completing puzzles – memory, concentration, and strategic thinking – have benefits that carry over into everyday life. Plus, games help reduce stress and anxiety, whether solo or with friends.
Our schedule is full of fun, challenging games. See the schedule here.
Cards or tiles? Crossword or jigsaw? Whether it’s canasta, mahjongg, Rummikub, or a New York Times crossword, here’s how games and puzzles help seniors stay sharp.
Games can help improve the brain’s processing speed and memory. The same concentration and memory that wins a hand of bridge or a round of canasta benefits you every day, whether that’s finding your glasses or remembering an appointment!
Strategic thinking during a game – especially timed games like Rummikub – provides practice for other tasks that require quick decision-making. Thinking strategically during a game trains the mind to foresee outcomes of different decisions and make the best choice. Away from the game table, this skill can help seniors make confident choices.
The colorful tiles in mahjongg and Rummikub and the visual patterns of jigsaw puzzles provide visual and tactile stimulation. Sensory stimulation has long been associated with keeping seniors’ minds sharp and healthy through normal age related changes, and it can also help slow cognitive changes due to Alzheimer’s.
Shuffling cards and picking up tiles and puzzle pieces all require fine motor skills. Games help keep fingers nimble, reducing arthritis pain and boosting independence and self-sufficiency.
Whether it’s a board game, a card game, or a strategy game, games are a perfect opportunity to socialize. Participating in an enjoyable activity and spending time with others (and the inevitable laughs that come around the table) helps to improve well-being, reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that seniors who socialize more have lower levels of stress, and enjoy the benefits like better immune function and improved mood and outlook.
For seniors who prefer solo pursuits, crossword puzzles, sudoku, and jigsaw puzzles are ideal choices. Crossword puzzles help keep recall and verbal functions sharp. Sudoku and jigsaw puzzles are terrific exercises for memory and pattern recognition.
FountainView at College Road is a glatt kosher senior living community in Rockland County, NY.