Playing Card Games Promotes Senior Brain Fitness
Playing Cards Helps Keep Your brain Fit
Exercise Your Brain To Keep It Fit
Getting older is a fact of life. While we fight the physical effects of aging with exercise and diet, we should also be concerned with our brain fitness. Seniors who see signs of memory loss may also fear losing their cognitive abilities as they age. However, new research shows that new brain cells continue to be produced even as we age. Many studies of older people have determined that decline in brain power is not inevitable, but can be slowed by actively exercising our brains and challenging our new brain cells with a variety of stimulating activities. Sticking to familiar and routine activities will not stimulate these new cells. Just as our bodies need physical exercises and training to keep fit, so our brains need to be exercised to keep fit.
Keep Those Neurons Firing
The National Institute on Aging says that strategy games, board games, word games, Sudoku, crossword puzzles and card games are all brain fitness exercises. Some of these exercises are enjoyed alone while others have the added benefit and stimulation of social interaction.
Playing cards is one activity that many people have enjoyed all their lives. Continuing to play card games will help seniors maintain their brainpower as they age.
Choose Challenging Card Games Like Pinochle, Bridge or Canasta
When choosing card games to play for brain fitness, bypass those endless games of solitaire that become routine and boring. Instead, play games like pinochle, bridge or canasta that exercise memory, concentration, strategy and math skills. Choose something new and challenging, and make an effort to learn new games every so often. Games that involve concentration, reasoning, problem solving, memory, information processing and focus will stimulate brain cells and keep neural pathways functioning. By challenging brain cells with these kinds of games, the neuron pathways are stimulated and continue to grow and develop despite cell damage that may be caused by aging or medical conditions. Variety, in this case, is not only the spice of life, but it is critical to keeping those neurons firing.
Card Games Improve Math Skills and Memory Skills
What better way to keep mentally fit than to get together with friends to learn a new game or enjoy an old favorite? Playing card games can help keep senior minds active by learning playing strategies and using math skills. Improve memory skills by playing games that depend on remembering which cards have been played and which are still likely to be in the opposing players’ hands. Sharpen math skills by quickly adding points played and keeping score – and leave that calculator in the drawer! Doing simple math in your head will exercise those brain cells! Card games that require players to develop strategies will force those new brain cells to connect and become active.
How to Play Hand and Foot
Card Game Rules
Looking for card game rules? The United States Playing Card Company has a great website with rules for every card game imaginable. http://www.usplayingcard.com/
Some Old Favorite Card Games
One of my favorite games is Hand and Foot, a version of Canasta that we learned a few years ago while camping with some friends. This is a great game to play with 4 or 6 people. It’s played with partners using regular playing cards (one more decks of cards than there are players). Each player has two playing hands containing 11 cards (13 by some rules) each, one stack is called the Hand, the other the Foot. The game is fast paced and fun with just enough complexity to make it a challenge. Played by building stacks of cards called “books”, there are many things to watch for at one time, keeping all players on their toes.
Another family favorite is Pinochle. While the game itself is easy to learn, the players who remember which cards have been played are the most successful. There is also a strategy to playing the cards once the meld has been put on the table.
Various versions of Rummy can be deceptively simple or more complex. One of my favorite Rummy games is Shanghai Rummy which is played like Rummy, but with different combinations of runs and sets required for each round, the game keeps players on their toes as they try to get on the table and use all of their cards first.
Want to learn a new game that will exercise your brain? How about learning to play Bridge, Whist, Cribbage, Canasta or Texas Hold ‘Em?
Which card game do you enjoy the most?See results without voting
Playing Cards Teaches Skills
Although this article is dedicated to brain fitness in seniors, playing cards is fun and useful for all ages. Card games can be used to teach children basic math skills, matching and observation, numbers and social skills. What better way to combine senior brain fitness exercises with teaching children some valuable skills than to play card games with your grandchildren?
In tough economic times, getting together with friends to play cards or board games is also an economical way to entertain. A stimulating evening or afternoon of cards not only keeps our minds active and alert as we age, but is a great excuse to socialize, laugh and have fun. And never underestimate the importance of laughter and fun to healthy, active minds.
Copyright ©2012 Stephanie Henkel
Wii Games for Seniors
- Wii Games ~ A New Trend for Seniors
Gone are the days when Granny and Gramps sat in their rockers and played checkers. What's making them get up out of those rockers, push back the coffee table and compete with the grandchildren for time...
Of interest to Seniors
- Stay Young - Tips for Looking and Feeling Younger- A...
No one wants to get old. Here are some humorous pointers for staying young and some serious facts about aging. Anti-aging foods and anti-aging lifestyle tips will help you look younger and feel younger.
- Brain Exercises to Keep your Mind Sharp
Believe it or not, there really is a good reason for learning algebra. If you want your brain to grow and would like to keep the cognitive skills you have as you age, there is no substitute for exercising the brain. Here are a few methods for keeping
- Wii Games ~ A New Trend for Seniors
Seniors are finding that playing Nintendo Wii games are not only fun, but good for their mental and physical health. Playing Wii is a growing trend in Senior Centers and Retirement communities making them a satisfying and enjoyable social activity.
- 10 Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids and Grandparents
Here are 10 fun outdoor activities for grandparents to do with their grandchildren. Take kids out into the fresh air and sunshine, enjoy nature and have fun!
- 5 Important Things Grandparents Can Teach Grandchild...
A grandparent's role as teacher. One of the most important is that of teacher. Here are 5 important things that grandparents can teach their grandchildren about reading, skills, values, manners and family heritage.
More by this Author
Is this an alien fossil or an ancient figure rock? Walking in the Sonoran Desert near the Arizona/California border I came across this odd rock with an embedded face. Although only about 5/8" across, the fossilized...
Love rocks? It's easy to become addicted to rock collecting when you spend time surrounded by rocks in the great outdoors.
Yankees and Southerners alike will enjoy these funny sayings collected from across the South. If you need help interpreting the meaning of these expressions, well here it is! Great list of Southernisms!