Playing board games ‘more likely to keep you mentally sharp in later life’

Playing board games ‘more likely to keep you mentally sharp in later life’

People who play board games and cards are more likely to stay mentally sharp in later life, according to a new study.

Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh tested more than 1,000 people aged 70 for memory, problem solving, thinking speed and general thinking ability.

Those who regularly played non-digital games scored better on memory and thinking tests.

For those in their 70s or beyond, another message seems to be that playing non-digital games may be a positive behaviour in terms of reducing cognitive decline

Results also suggested those who increased game-playing during their 70s were more likely to maintain certain thinking skills as they grew older.

The university’s Dr Drew Altschul said: “These latest findings add to evidence that being more engaged in activities during the life course might be associated with better thinking skills in later life.

“For those in their 70s or beyond, another message seems to be that playing non-digital games may be a positive behaviour in terms of reducing cognitive decline.”

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director, said: “Even though some people’s thinking skills can decline as we get older, this research is further evidence that it doesn’t have to be inevitable.

“The connection between playing board games and other non-digital games later in life and sharper thinking and memory skills adds to what we know about steps we can take to protect our cognitive health, including not drinking excess alcohol, being active and eating a healthy diet.”

The participants were part of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 study, a group of individuals born that year who took part in the Scottish Mental Survey of 1947.

Results from an intelligence test they sat when they were 11 years old were also taken into account, with the new results having repeated the same thinking tests every three years until aged 79.

The Duchess of Cornwall playing the card game Rummy with the residents at The Fair Close Centre in Newbury, Berkshire (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)
The Duchess of Cornwall playing the card game Rummy with the residents at The Fair Close Centre in Newbury, Berkshire (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

As well as considering lifestyle factors, such as education, socioeconomic status and activity levels, Professor Ian Deary suggested it would be beneficial to test which types of games work better than others.

The director of the university’s Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE) said: “We and others are narrowing down the sorts of activities that might help to keep people sharp in older age.

“In our Lothian sample, it’s not just general intellectual and social activity, it seems – it is something in this group of games that has this small but detectable association with better cognitive ageing.

“It’d be good to find out if some of these games are more potent than others.

“We also point out that several other things are related to better cognitive ageing, such as being physically fit and not smoking.”

The study is published in The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences.

More on this topic

Five-year-old boy brings his whole kindergarten class to adoption hearingFive-year-old boy brings his whole kindergarten class to adoption hearing

11 things you only know if you take far too long to get ready11 things you only know if you take far too long to get ready

Stags on pitch halt training for Scottish football teamStags on pitch halt training for Scottish football team

Dog stranded at sea rescued by Coast GuardDog stranded at sea rescued by Coast Guard

More in this Section

Here is what got Irish people talking on Twitter this yearHere is what got Irish people talking on Twitter this year

New Banksy mural features homeless man on benchNew Banksy mural features homeless man on bench

Thunder Child II ready for testing ahead of world record attemptThunder Child II ready for testing ahead of world record attempt

Berlin zoo reveals names and gender of panda twin cubsBerlin zoo reveals names and gender of panda twin cubs


Lifestyle

As David Attenborough announces new series on plants, we run down some of the weird and wonderful vegetation he might include.11 bizarre plant species from around the world

The weather’s always going to be a key factor on any wedding day — but especially so when the bride works for Met Éireann, writes Eve Kelliher.Wedding of the week: Bride and groom are literally on cloud nine

My wife and I are in our fifties and she has just started using porn. She thinks it will enhance our sex life if we watch it together, but I find the idea a total turn-off.Suzi Godson's Sex Advice: My wife wants us to watch porn together?

As you probably have heard by now, changes to the rules concerning gift vouchers in Ireland came into effect earlier this month, giving consumers more rights when it comes to these popular items.Making Cents: Play your cards right when giving gift vouchers this Christmas

More From The Irish Examiner