Older adults should start playing cards/board games/etc. to maintain cognitive ability

January 8, 2020

Non-digital games, such as cards, board games, or crossword puzzles, are reported to grant cognitive benefits to its player and especially keeps older adults “sharp” – studies have shown that brain training apps may prevent mild cognitive impairment while 3D video games that may reverse age-related cognitive decline. Drew Altschul, from the Department of Psychology and Professor Ian Deary, Director of the Edinburgh Lothian Birth Cohorts, at the University of Edinburgh, UK, recommends playing games to improve the cognitive ability of older adults.

This follows a long study that evaluated the mental and cognitive capacities of nearly 1,091 participants from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936. Researchers first assessed the participants’ cognitive function when they were 11 years old, and then later on after 70; participants were asked how often they played board games, cards, chess, bingo, or crosswords, particularly at ages 70 through 76.

The researchers found that people who played more games in their 70s were more likely to maintain healthy cognitive function as they aged. Those who reported playing more analog games in their 70s had also experienced less relative cognitive decline from the age of 11 until 70, which adds to evidence that being more engaged in activities during one’s life course could translate to better thinking skills in later life.

Altschul comments, “For those in their 70s or beyond, playing non-digital games may be a positive behavior in terms of reducing cognitive decline.”

Prof. Deary muses that “something” in analog games has small but detectable association with better cognitive aging, “It would be good to find out if some of these games are more potent than others.”

“We can also point out several other things related to better cognitive aging, such as being physically fit and not smoking,” concludes Prof. Deary.


Category: Education, Features

Comments are closed.