Solitaire is a fun and challenging game, available on SubGame for free, that provides a perfect blend of chance and strategy for players of all ages. Though this game (regardless of its form or type) is a great way to pass the time, it is also a proven method of giving your brain a little exercise, flexing muscles that it wouldn’t typically have the opportunity to do otherwise.
Giving the brain a workout is going to be the focus of this article, as solitaire turns out to be a good method to promote cognitive health in the elderly, and can be used as a fun and painless means to stay as sharp as possible in our later years. The cognitive stimulus that solitaire games provide helps to either prevent or decrease the severity of mental decline that occurs as we age.
The New England Journal of Medicine published an article of research conducted back in 2003 entitled “Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly,” which showed that participation in cognitive activities (which would include strategy games like solitaire) reduced rates of memory decline. This, among other forms of leisure activities, can help prevent the onset of dementia and other cognitive impairments.
The Cognitive Challenges Faced by Senior Citizens
If we’re lucky, we’re all going to get old, and some might even say that this is a far better time to age than ever due to technology and medical breakthroughs that make being older more manageable than what’s been experienced prior. But while many aging people focus on good physical health, once we hit a certain age (70+), it’s time to become more focused on cognitive health.
The cognitive challenges faced by senior citizens affect every area of their lives over time. Not only is it difficult for them, but for their families as well. Here are some ways that cognitive decline in the elderly can affect their daily lives.
As we age, the brain gets a little slower in processing information, slowing cognitive function. Things begin to suffer such as the ability to multitask effectively, difficulty in paying attention, solving problems, and a dulled sense of reaction time.
Among the most common symptoms of aging is memory loss. The elderly can suffer from a wide range of severity of memory loss, from simple little things to important life-long landmarks depending on the person. Memory loss falls into three categories: short-term, working, and long-term, all of which can be affected as we age.
Social isolation is a major concern for the elderly. Senior citizens can suffer from all kinds of mental issues like depression, loneliness, and cognitive decline, all due to becoming isolated from social activity.
Difficulty Learning New Things
You might hear some people say things about the elderly like, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” regarding learning new things, and that just isn’t true. However, when one’s cognitive activity begins to decline, it can become more difficult for elderly people to learn new things. “More difficult” does not mean impossible, but things don’t seem to come as easily as they used to.
Confusion can occur for all kinds of reasons, particularly if you’re a senior citizen. Senior citizens may not be getting enough good sleep, they are more likely to be on medications that might be a contributor, a diet, or lack thereof, those kinds of reasons. At worst, confusion can be a beginning symptom of deeper, more serious conditions like dementia or delirium.
The Benefits of Solitaire for Cognitive Health
All of the above are things that most people aren’t looking forward to having to deal with, and through the benefits of playing cognitively stimulating games, the risk of these problems can be reduced, and in some reasonable circumstances reversed. Are you familiar with the hippocampus?
In short, the hippocampus is a gray matter in the brain that is involved in forming, storing, and processing memory. Cognitive stimuli like playing match-up games such as solitaire or Mahjong, or the act of learning new things activate and strengthen our hippocampus, creating new and strengthened neural pathways.
The following are some of the benefits of playing solitaire and the results of a healthier cognitive condition.
Solitaire is a game, and games are played and loved for their ability to elevate one’s mood. You won’t win every game of solitaire, which makes it all the sweeter when you do win. An improved mood promotes greater cognitive flexibility and an overall sense of clarity of thought. Start playing Solitaire and get positive emotions with SubGame! You can also try absolutely free fascinating varieties of Solitaire, such as Mahjong, Addiction Solitaire and Algerian Solitaire.
Improved Hand-Eye Coordination
You may think that playing solitaire by hand with physical cards is the only way that the game could improve one’s hand-eye coordination. But even electronic iterations of the game can do the same, but to a lesser extent. Your hands are still in control of what’s going on on-screen, and improvement will still happen.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety
The reduction of stress and anxiety is closely related to having an improved mood from the game. However, this is a step further in that playing solitaire can assist one to avoid concentrating on their problems or stressors, and just enjoy the game. Your worries and problems may still be there when you’re done, but the break in the stress can be incredibly helpful.
Increased Social Interaction
Though solitaire is often a single-player game, there are ways to modify it or different styles out there that can include friends and family or can be played online against others. Such activities can improve relationships, and keep the elderly individual from suffering from loneliness or mental, physical, or social stagnation. Research has shown that consistent participation in social activity has a significant positive effect on cognitive function in senior citizens.
You’ll not often hear solitaire being referred to as a competitive game, but it is in many ways it can be. Instead of challenging another team or individual, you’re challenging yourself to do better each time you play. If a particular type of solitaire doesn’t seem competitive enough, throw a timer on it to complete it in a certain amount of time, or keep trying to beat your best time, and before you know it, the competitive juices will be flowing!
Healthy competition is an important factor in terms of improving cognitive function as it helps people rise to a challenge or an occasion, and to try and find a way to cross the finish line or be victorious. Through this process, all kinds of things are at play cognitively, strengthening and bolstering the involved neural processes.
How Solitaire Can Help Delay Cognitive Decline
On the surface, it may be difficult to believe that solitaire can delay cognitive decline, but it truly does and has been scientifically proven to do so. However, it is best to begin using brain games sooner than later, as the effects can prevent cognitive decline from taking route in its earliest stages.
Five major areas are strengthened against cognitive decline for senior citizens through regular solitaire play. They are general memory, problem-solving ability, decision-making ability, attention, and visual-spatial skills. The use and exercise of functions are what fight early-stage cognitive decline, and the following is a breakdown to explain how this works.
Solitaire helps to strengthen and improve the general memory of the elderly. The ability to recall, retrieve, and process information all fall under this category. When in cognitive decline, these areas are among the first to be hampered and can be withstood or prevented through the mental exercises that solitaire provides.
Problem-solving is a skill that is developed throughout one’s life. Solitaire prevents the decline of this skill as every move being made is a problem being solved, exercising the cognitive function in charge of problem-solving. Critical thinking and reasoning skills are also exercised throughout a game of solitaire, both of which contribute toward a healthy problem-solving skillset.
In solitaire, every move is a decision being made that can impact the progression of the game. The calm nature of the game is said to create a better cognitive environment that caters to more sound decision-making. Making decisions is a skill that, when exercised, can become improved just like any other naturally occurring skill.
Impaired decision-making is a symptom of cognitive decline, and subtle exercises such as match and move games can help to resharpen what decline is attempting to dull in this area.
To get anywhere playing solitaire, you need to be paying attention- particularly if you’re playing against the clock as an added element of fun. Being willingly forced into paying attention to the game, your brain gets practice in weeding out distractions and increases one’s ability to retain levels of focus.
Like all of the other factors in this section, this reinforced ability can be used in a variety of circumstances that might occur in everyday life.
Visual-spatial skills are what helps us stay well-oriented to the world around us. It is how we cognitively process the information taken in through the eyes to determine how we move or interact through or with a space. Solitaire helps to strengthen this cognitive skill by creating matches, having to remember what card goes where, and placing cards in the correct sequences.
The Impact of Solitaire on Quality of Life for Seniors
Cognitive health, mood, stress, anxiety, social interactions, and an overall sense of well-being can be achieved through doing something as simple as playing solitaire.
Improved Cognitive Health
In the section above, it is clear how solitaire can help impact the cognitive health of the elderly. With all of these mental muscles exercised and new neural pathways being developed, the quality of life is positively impacted in an overall, general sense. Train your brain with us and with Solitaire!
An improved mood caters to a more positive outlook, and positivity gives an injection of life into anyone’s quality of life, particularly senior citizens. Anything that can healthily improve one’s mood is always a plus, and solitaire can assist in this department.
Stress and Anxiety Reduction
In a way, only people who have suffered the punishing factors of stress and anxiety can truly appreciate the devastating effect they have on someone’s quality of life. In that same vein, the same would appreciate the refreshing effect relief of such things can bring. As solitaire has a positive effect against stress and anxiety, it brings them a little closer to a peace that is meaningful toward a better quality of life.
Sense of Accomplishment
When you lose a game of solitaire it’s not the end of the world. Often, one revels in how close they might have come from emptying the deck, or other metrics that leave one satisfied despite not beating the game. But, when one does beat the game, it’s a great feeling, giving people a sense of accomplishment, which impacts positively in terms of overall quality of life.
Improved Social Relationships
This is kind of self-explanatory, as social relationships are an important part of everyone’s quality of life. When playing alongside friends, family, or even acquaintances, there is a richness that is added to one’s life through strengthened relationships, and good memories are produced.
Mental Activity When Alone
A nickname for the mind is often “the devil’s playground” because of the potential to dwell on negative things when left to one’s own devices. There are times when we wind up alone, and need something to do to avoid dwelling on all of the wrong things. A good bout of solitaire games can help you to enjoy some alone time, rather than being stuck in fruitless, damaging thoughts on undesirable circumstances.
As we get older, some things happen to us that we have little to no control over. Fortunately, cognitive decline is not among them when caught early enough, and can be combated without expensive surgeries or the proverbial jumping through hoops. Spending some time doing something harmless and enjoyable can prevent cognitive decline in senior citizens, and solitaire card games fit the bill, be they in hand or electronically played.