, ,

Gaming and Alzheimer’s: Does it really slow down the process of the disease?

Paisley food Festival

There are many studies looking into Alzheimer’s prevention, as the disease affects 850,000 people in the UK alone and this number is expected to rise to two million by 2025. Many of these studies are considering gaming and how it slows down the effects of the disease, as it stimulates the brain and encourages memory recall.

Everything from crosswords to looking into how bingo can improve your health has been considered, all with the premise that these games were made to improve memory recall – something Alzheimer’s affects greatly. The brain disorder is caused mainly by age and genetics but we can delay the effects with a lifestyle change that employs brain training games, as a way of tackling the disease’s symptoms.

Brain training games improve the connections between your brain cells which in turn can help generate new cells and stimulate the memory centres. Alzheimer’s is caused by beta-amyloid, a type of plaque that builds up in the brain, affecting its ability to remember and think clearly but those who play games can reduce the possibility of this plaque build up and therefore prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Games that can help with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s include crosswords, Sudoku, chess and bingo. Bingo is actively played in nursing homes up and down the country as it encourages those playing to concentrate on keeping track of the numbers called and their tickets.

The calling out of bingo numbers improves memory recall as those playing have to remember the number as they search for it on their grid, quickly before the next one is called. More cards to work from in a game requires more concentration, which can speed up the brain training process.

The good thing about these games is that they don’t make those playing stressed; a crossword or a Sudoku puzzle can be enjoyed at your own leisure, chess is a social game that can be played with a friend and bingo can be exhilarating and fun when the caller gets into the bingo calling spirit.

One study discovered that those playing mental stimulating games improved their scores on memory tests which resulted in a delay of six to nine months in worsening of symptoms. Those who played games also reported increased feelings of happiness and well being, as well as improved communication with others.

It’s important to note though that these effects occurred in the very early stages of the disease, those with severe dementia did not appear to benefit from playing these mental stimulating games.

When it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s it’s best to start now, engage your brain with games that encourage it to think hard for around 45 minutes a day. It’s also a good idea to turn off the TV and enjoy some physical activity too, because not only does it ensure you can remain mobile for longer, it can improve your physical and mental wellbeing as a whole. Take care of yourself in order to prevent the effects of the disease and definitely spend time playing more games.