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SENIOR SAVVY: Senior years, the perfect time for mind games

Another new year and more resolutions to make.
Doing word puzzles and other brain games is crucial to help slow the mental aging process, writes April Lewis. (Pixabay)

Another new year and more resolutions to make.

Get fit.

Join a gym.

Lose 10 pounds.

Yeah, right. I don’t think so, as we both know we will never stick to our plan. Suffice to say, we have to move. Use it or lose it.

Go for a walk or climb some stairs.

Get a dog.

Just move so our aging bodies don’t seize up.

There, that’s enough of a new year’s resolution for this gal.

However, my aging brain is another matter. I want to keep it limber to ward off any signs of dementia or forgetfulness.

Santa agrees with me as he put a helpful book under my tree entitled 417 more games, puzzles & trivia challenges specially designed to keep your brain young, by Nancy Linde.

The introduction, written by a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Dr. Philip D. Harvey, emphasizes that exercising our brains to think in new and challenging ways is a great way to maintain our cognitive edge.

And by exercising our brains, I don’t mean anticipating the arrival of Prince Harry’s book Spare, where previews indicate he continues to whine about all things royal.

Poor Harry. What with the $100 million Netflix paid him to bore us to death with his six-part documentary, he is set to rake in millions more with his tell-all book.

Reading his tome of lamentations will not improve your memory or sharpen your mind, but playing games as presented in Linde’s book will provide a rigorous workout for your brain.

Games are good, according to the author, as they promote social interaction, challenge us intellectually and offer new learning opportunities.

Just as physical exercise can make you more limber and your heart stronger, a daily dose of games can improve the function of your brain.

The very act of thinking in novel ways triggers a physical reaction in the brain – a cascade of events called neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is a new science that helps improve the brain’s neuro pathways. It’s like a brain cleanse.

Mental exercises and games sharpen memory, concentration and mental flexibility.

The exercises are intended to highlight the six cognitive functions of the brain; namely, long-term memory, working memory, executive functioning, attention to detail, multitasking and processing speed.

Have you noticed occasional memory lapses such as forgetting names or events that occurred in the distant past?

That is long-term memory.

Working memory is short-term memory where you can remember a phone number or a grocery list without writing it down.

Executive functioning involves solving problems by using information you already have stored in your brain.

Attention to details requires you to concentrate and stay focused,

Multitasking. Well, if you’re a woman you are familiar with this cognitive function!

Processing speed is the speed at which your brain processes information.

Here are some fun examples of some of the exercises meant to address these functions.

What a Pair asks you to identify familiar pairs from the clues. For example, Hemoglobin and Clinton’s vice president. Blood and gore. Demise and tariffs. Death and taxes.

Word Tower, asks you to build a tower of 12 words beginning with two letters such as ME all the way to METAMORPHOSIS.

Alphabet Trivia wants you to answer trivia questions whose answers all begin with the same letter. Using D for example, What is the only US state that begins with the letter D? (Delaware).

Four hundred pages of brain bliss!

Now that beats pages of Prince Harry’s whinging! But if he wants a new capital venture, I suggest he purchase a vineyard in Napa.

He can call it Harry’s Whinery.

April Lewis writes monthly on seniors issues.