Want to Stay Alert? Get in the Game!

We’ve all been through the panic of: “Where’s my phone?” or “Where did I put my glasses?” If you’ve ever experienced this, followed by the relief when you discover you’re talking on your phone and your glasses are on top of your head, you aren’t alone. You might then ask yourself, “Am I losing my mind?” Chances are, the answer is “no”. You’re probably just a regular person with an occasional memory lapse, normal for people over 50. Fortunately, there are ways to combat this and to prevent further memory loss down the road. Brain training, games and following a healthy lifestyle are great ways to maintain and possibly even increase your mental fitness!

Scientists have conflicting views on the benefits of brain training, some are a bit skeptical of the recent popularity of programs that are privately offered and can be costly. Some researchers, including Dr. Glenn Smith, thinks there are benefits. According to an article by the American Psychological Association, Dr. Smith conducted a study during his tenure at the Mayo Clinic which confirms that cognitively normal older adults improved their information processing speed by approximately 58% after brain training. Fifty-eight percent!

Milwaukee’s Fox6 News recently aired a story about LearningRx, a company in Brookfield that helps people fight memory loss. The brain is a muscle and just like any muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. LearningRx pairs clients with a trainer who conducts a series of exercises to target areas that need the most attention. While the need for professional brain training programs is still up for discussion, scientists do agree that physical exercise, a healthy diet, and social interaction all contribute to brain health.

Don’t want to spend money on a brain trainer? Try a few free games and exercises you can do on your own. No exercise routine works unless you stick with it and this applies to the mind too. That’s why AARP offers a huge selection of free games, pick your favorite and switch any time you get bored.
But low-tech brain games work too. Remember the TV show Concentration? Pictures in boxes flipped over on a big screen and contestants had to remember which picture was behind each box to create matches. You can recreate that game with a simple deck of cards and a friend. Here’s how:

1. Shuffle the cards.
2. Lay the cards face down on a table.
3. Take turns flipping the cards over one at a time to try to find each card’s match.
4. The person with the most matches wins!

But everyone really wins because this is a fun way to improve your memory while also enjoying social interaction.
And speaking of social interaction, nothing beats sitting down with friends or family with a board game. You can find games on sale at retail stores like Target and Walmart. There’s even a store devoted to gaming and brain-oriented games. Board Game Barrister has two local stores that offer hundreds of games sure to get both the neurons and the fun flowing.

Less than an hour away, in Burlington, Wisconsin, is the amazing Logic Puzzle Museum and its ‘sister’ destination, the Spinning Top and YoYo Museum. Area escape rooms such as the nearby Escape the Room, are the newest rage, giving live action opportunities to flex your cranial muscles to conquer a mission.

There’s ample opportunity for brain-workouts within our own doors at Eastcastle Place, with regularly scheduled programs including educational seminars, book clubs, history roundtables, cards, games, and more!