Boomers use online brain games to stave off dementia

The generation that refuses to age is not going to sit back and wait for Alzheimer's Disease and other signs of dementia to take hold. Instead, savvy Baby Boomers are expanding their minds (no, not the way they did in the 60s) with the aid of the computer, puzzles, and games. A brain health movement is sweeping the nation, and 60+-year-olds are riding the crest of the wave.

Some recommended anti-brain drain steps you can take include engaging in a physical activity, maintaining an active social life, continuing your education, eating a low-fat diet, and playing intellectual games.

Non-repetitive games like solving crossword and jumble puzzles, playing chess, and working with other types of brainteasers, can help keep your brain fit, according to Gary Kennedy, M.D., director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Kennedy points out that, while there's no guarantee that brain games will have a lasting effect, any intellectually challenging pursuit can reduce the risk of dementia and keep the brain functioning at a high level.

The phrase cognitive fitness is being used to describe the activities that provide an intellectual workout for your brain. Articles published by the Mayo Clinic suggest that participating in mentally challenging tasks, including crossword puzzles and playing board games can delay the onset of age-related cognitive problems.

The Nintendo games, "Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day," and "Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day" are hot sellers. A Japanese neurologist worked with Nintendo to create the games.

The Internet offers a plethora of brain games for those who don't subscribe to a daily newspaper or don't want to purchase games. AARP, for example, offers plenty of free games on its site. More games appear at SharpBrains.com, including a page that contains the Top Ten Neuroscience Brainteasers,and you can sign up to have the College Board e-mail you the SAT question of the day.

Some online sites for purchasing brain games include Acuity Games and Lumosity.com. Acuity Games states its goal is to " provide a focused product resource for people who want to improve and maintain the various aspects of cognitive function." Lumosity claims their games provide clearer and quicker thinking, improved memory, increased alertness and awareness, better concentration, and an elevated mood.

Kennedy also points out that, if you make it to age 85 without developing dementia, the risk of dementia decreases. So get busy and get playing! Your old age awaits!

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