A Simple Game to Help the Brain!
As the global population ages, the number of people with forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease is rising. But there is some good news; scientists say that keeping the brain active by playing games and solving puzzles can help to prevent the onset of these debilitating conditions, and may even improve existing mental faculties.
Last year it was estimated that there were nearly 45 million people around the world with some form of dementia, and that the number was likely to triple by 2050. Much of the growth will come from developing countries, as the population of China, India and surrounding nations gets older. Ironically, this is partly due to improved health care around the world. In the past, people often didn’t live long enough to develop the symptoms of dementia.
Now, it seems that the brain is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets! A study by researchers in Wisconsin in the US seems to show that activities like playing cards, reading, doing crosswords and other puzzles, and taking part in mentally challenging games can improve brain function.
These days, going online is often the easiest way to make playing games a part of our routines, and of course the earlier we start playing, the more likely it is to become a regular activity. Modern smartphones and tablets are so easy to use that people of any age can be playing word games or trying their luck at within minutes of picking one up. Most online casinos allow people to play for free, and the devices can also be used as a mobile library, with a huge number of available to download. The number of free-to-download games and puzzles increases every day.
The participants in the study were all aged over 60, with a family background that included relatives who had suffered from dementia. Amazingly, those who said they regularly played games were found (via scans) to have larger brains. It’s important to note that none of those taking part already had symptoms like memory loss and other cognitive impairment, and further study needs to take place.
- Healthy Mind, Healthy Body
However, few people would argue that keeping the mind active is likely to produce negative results, and combined with moderate exercise and a healthy diet, it seems likely that mental exercise is as necessary in later life as the physical kind. Dr Laurel Coleman from the Maine Medical Centre in the north-eastern US including a variety of activities in your routine – learning a language, for example – may be the key.