We’re all familiar with the concept of doing puzzles to help support our brain health, especially as we age. But why not add another dimension and make it social.  Play a game with someone else instead of a solitary activity, and there will be many more gains. 

There are plenty of online games and programs to help brain health. One I often recommend is called Brainhq which has some good research behind it. But more recently I’ve been changing my recommendation to suggest games that are social. 

My hubby likes his newspaper crossword and sudoku after dinner.  And that’s great. Good challenges. And he does it just about every night. But I’m now encouraging us both to play something together at this time too. It gets me off my laptop and gives us a social, fun, entertaining time. Our daily dose of Hygge! He doesn’t have to give up his crossword and sudoku, just squeeze in a little time for something else too.

For Christmas, I bought us Travel Yam Slam so we can take it anywhere, and also, a blast from my past, Mastermind. I actually went with the more complicated Mastermind version with 5 slots – called Codebreaker so you can use doubles and blanks too! I used to love playing this as a kid. 

But the games you choose, don’t matter. Choose what you love. What matters is that they are a challenge for the brain but are social too. When we play games, our whole conversation changes. We tend to joke and tease each other, help each other, become quick thinking and quick-witted. Playing games brings out a different side to people – hopefully not too competitive!

And talking of competitive….last night when my hubby and I played Yam Slam – which is a version of Yahtzee that uses chips instead of having to write the score down – he got 3 Yam Slams/Yahtzees (all dice the same number) and every single one was with the number 1! Are those dice loaded or what?  Needless to say, I lost. But I think I’m going to go for ones in the future!!!!!

What can we potentially gain from social games?

Playing games together means:

  • having fun, laughter
  • family time, connecting
  • memory formation and cognitive skills
  • lowers blood pressure
  • quickens your responses
  • reduces stress
  • improves immune function

What an easy lifestyle medicine approach this is. All it takes is a few minutes a day. Yes, it can just be 10 minutes. 

So if you have a solitary game or puzzle that you do every day, maybe just cut down on the time of that and add in a social game too.

Yes, mum and dad – this applies to you too! Get off your handheld Yahtzee or solitaire machines and play something together before you go to bed! 

Get the cards out, get the dice out, get the board games out, don’t forget the dominos… and enjoy some social time while improving brain health!

What is your favorite? I want to give it a try. 

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