Written by Patty Pearcy, President & CEO of SimplyFun
Have you noticed that as we grow older our use of memory games for adults, like word puzzles, seems to increase? Brain games like crosswords, word searches, Wordle…all of them seem to take up more space in our daily lives. These are all great tools to keep our minds active and our vocabulary strong as we age. But these are also activities done solo and while they address our continued fluency as we get older, do not address perhaps a bigger challenge… that of senior isolation.
Word Games and a Social Life are Key for Seniors
AARP magazine recently shared a group of health risks for older adults and how lifestyle can contribute to their intensity. Isolation was high on that list. [February/March AARP 8 Habit that are raising your blood pressure.] Having an active social life is as much a part of maintaining our overall well-being as exercise, diet, and plenty of sleep. It’s a key part of the aging ‘healthy’ equation!
So where am I headed with all this? As you might expect, to encourage seniors to play brain games! Keeping our memory fresh is more than just working on a few puzzles. We also need to consider how memories are made and how they stick, particularly long-lasting ones. That involves a combination of actions that marries emotions with sensory experiences related to specific content. Doubter? Even some 40 years later I can still remember two words written by a professor on a review of one of my grad school papers. They were inculcate and paradigm. And I remember them and their meaning to this day because they were attached to the most favorable comments I ever saw on my writing and analytical capability. The joy I felt in receiving that review made those words stick like glue in my memory, even though, at the time I had to look both words up! LOL!
Create Memories While Strengthening Your Memory with Word Games
While I love word puzzles, they are in essence, a singular activity played usually without the emotional benefit that social engagement brings. Thankfully, they are not the only way to keep language skills fresh and minds active. Adding the social element of laughter and fun is like adding icing and sprinkles to a great cupcake. If you take a minute to look, you will find a whole world of word games available to choose from that play from two to many players. And, in playing together, you can create memories while using your memory! Plus, an awesome bonus of benefiting emotionally through the joyful act of play.
But how do I get started? Well it might take a little planning and effort on your part, but it’s totally doable.
Here are Five Ideas to Add Word Gameplay into Your Routine!
1. Start a game club with a few friends. Instead of reading books (book club), play a game.
2. Encourage your local senior center to start a weekly/monthly game afternoon.
3. Take a word game to your next extended family visit and encourage everyone to play with you!
4. Invite the neighborhood kids that you know to come for gameplay for an hour after school.