Does playing chess prevent Alzheimer’s?

chess-girl-blonde1How many of us know what we can do to reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s disease? When I ask groups of seniors that question, some of the more common answers include games such as crossword puzzles, chess, or sudoku. Each one of these answers is right but also wrong, because simply playing games falls short of what we can do to reduce our risk of dementia. Playing games like chess can stimulate our minds, increase our social interactions with others and possibly reduce stress, but when it comes to reducing our risk of Alzheimer’s, the type, variety and frequency of the games we play is key. We all know that games can be fun and challenging, but if we are interested in actually maintaining brain fitness, then games and activities that stimulate all six cognitive areas of the brain at the same time are the most beneficial. Those six cognitive areas: Short-term memory, used when we remember information shortly after it’s been understood. The child’s game Memory, where cards are face...

The third place

12_4_origI have a neighbor who heads to the beach when life becomes too stressful. When she felt the strain from caregiving for her 95 year-old mother or the overwhelming demands of at work, watching and listening to the waves, feeling the sand under her feet and the warmth of the sun provided a healing experience. This isn’t so surprising since years ago, scientists discovered that when we experience “burnout” such as from an exhausting day at work or caring for a loved one, natural surroundings like parks, green spaces, and beaches offer a soothing environment to de-stress. Research now shows that in addition to visiting natural surroundings, “third place” locations, like health clubs, coffee shops, restaurants and senior centers may also offer some of those same restorative qualities. Sociologist, Ray Oldenburg coined the terms “first, second and third place” about twenty years ago. “First place" is home. "Second place" is the workplace. “Third places” are informal meeting places we...

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