My son Sam has been desperate for the release of the Nintendo Classic Mini – a retro version bringing back old school favourites like Donkey Kong and Super Mario (hey who doesn’t love a cute plumber in blue overalls! ) It arrived in on Tuesday at EB Games and rumour had it would sell out the same day. So I battled the masses at Silvia Park and nabbed one. Secretly it was also for myself after discovering gaming could help to improve my memory.
The power of play has come into focus in Alzheimer’s research as staying cognitively active throughout life by playing games and has been associated with lowering risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A big part is also the social engagement factor which is linked to keeping the mind sharp.
So this week’s mission was to seek out my inner child and find the game that I enjoyed and could be part of my weekly activities to help prevent the big “A”
Day 1. Brain game Apps
I investigated a few apps but my fav was Lumosity. One, the basic version was for free; two it challenges your brain; three it was really simple to follow. Sometimes I find that setting up of these games and learning how to play can be even more challenging than the actual game. From neuroscience to visual art, they have made it fun! The cool thing is you do a quick test first to get your baseline scores on 3 games. See how you stack up against others your age, and take the first step in your training. There is still a question mark on if it can stave off Alzheimers but if you are like me, you struggle to stick at new routines and you like the structure then Lumosity is for you as you get a little reminder every day with a fun game to play. It will be part of my daily brain work out for sure.
Day 2. Gaming
Though video games are often thought to provide only brain-numbing violence and mindless entertainment, there’s been growing evidence people can benefit from playing them .Tests have shown certain types of video games can improve older adults’ memory, ability to multitask, and reaction time. In fact, some research has even shown video games could improve the cognitive ability of older adults so much that the brain’s level of function is on par with that of someone in their 20s. Now I’m all for that but not in an obsessive, gaming-crazy way as I do spend my days trying to discourage my son from going on his DS so much. If you do however want to have some fun and get your brain moving I would recommend Nintendo Classic Mini especially if you were a child of the 70s or early 80s as it is a fun way to relive your days of being terrible at video games.
Day 3. Play with your kids
I am completely guilty about focusing more on my work than playing with my children. With my head buried in my computer, India will ask something like “Muma, can we have a play on the trampoline after dinner” my reply “No we can’t have dinner on the trampoline, the table is already set”. Until recently I have kept up a high dose of stress in my life and have forgotten how to play with my children. Mid-life stress has been previously linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Playing with your children won’t improve your memory (unless you play Chess with them) but it will lower your stress levels which can help to keep Alzheimer’s at bay, but the most important thing is having fun with your children and keeping your inner child alive. Here’s to playing “crack the egg” on the tramp!
Day 4. Sea Hero Quest
I love this! It is the world’s first mobile game where anyone can help scientists fight dementia. By playing Sea Hero Quest for just 2 minutes it would take scientists 5 hours to collect similar lab based research. The game has been played by over 2.7million people, generating over 73 years of gameplay, making ‘Sea Hero Quest’ the largest dementia study in history. Sadly there is a new case of Dementia every 3 seconds and will triple by 2050 to 135 million if we don’t find a cure. This is more than a game it is a quest to save the human brain so please have a go to help with this incredible research. Go to http://www.seaheroquest.com/en to play.
Day 5. Board Games
I am a scrabble fan and very competitive at it especially when I got a score once of 180. nothing I guess compared to the highest ever score of 1778 points for the word “oxyphenbutazone! The best forms of mental stimulation to keep the mind in top shape are board games. Consistently playing board games greatly lowers the risk of cognitive decline. Board games are also great for people in early to mid stages of Alzheimer’s. I bought an old favourite of mine – Connect 4 to play with my mother and while not quite a board game I thought it would be good to see if I could get her to interact even though she is in the last stage and has trouble moving her arms. It was a happy moment when she was able to connect.
Playing a game or simply interacting with others goes a long way to keeping your brain active so dig out your old Space Invaders or Monopoly set and play for a Beautiful Mind.
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