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Keep Playing Those Mind Games

MarketWatch, 17 July 2019, Sarah Toy, People spent $1.9 billion last year on apps to keep their brains sharp as they age — here’s what actually works

Train Your Brain

“Sandra Wisham had never heard of cognitive training until her senior centre in Coral Gables, Fla, hosted a seminar on ageing and invited attendees to enrol in a brain-fitness course. Intrigued, she signed up.
“I want to remain independent as long as possible,” says Wisham, 76. She works hard to keep herself physically fit, going to weekly body conditioning and Zumba classes at the retirement centre. It made sense to her to do the same for her mind, she says.
Cognitive, or brain, training refers to exercises aimed at improving specific aspects of a person’s cognitive functions, such as processing speed, reasoning and memory. The exercises can be computer- or smartphone-based.”

Through the WI Lens

Apps and computer programs that focus on brain health have been enjoying a burst in popularity, as more retirees becoming aware of the need to exercise their minds as well as their bodies, and to stave off mental decline as well as dementia. What this article finds is that there is no silver bullet: although a number of scientific studies have shown some evidence that when brain training tools have been used there’s a reduction in dementia and better retention of brain performance in specific areas, the benefits are piecemeal and certainly don’t represent a cure for Alzheimer’s. In combination with other measures, such as healthy diet, exercise and vascular monitoring, however, cognitive training can be even more effective.

What’s clear is that there’s a growing awareness that longevity is not an end in itself; it’s quality of life that matters and there will be a growing demand for all kinds of products, tools, training methods and activities that can contribute towards preserving our mental faculties. It’s become expected for hotels, parks and public authorities to offer physical exercise facilities; perhaps it’s time they considered it normal to offer mental exercise too?

 

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