As we age, fewer things engage our brains. Once retired, we no longer have a day-to-day routine, the challenges of a full time career or daily interaction with others of similar interests. It can become easy to allow ourselves to ‘slip’, both physically and mentally. And, as easy as it is, it is equally imperative that we don’t let it happen!
Games can be a great source of mental stimulation. Getting together on a regular schedule with friends to chat, play a game and fellowship is one way to keep in touch with others and give the old gray matter a much needed work out. But on days when the gang’s not all here, use those same games to stretch your synapses and bend your brain.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Scattergories – If you’ve never played this word game, you’re missing out. Using specified categories and a predetermined alphabetical letter, players try to think of one word for each of the twelve listed categories within a limited time. If the category is ‘vehicle’ and the letter is‘d’, you might say ‘Dodge’, ‘Durango’, ‘Dart’, ‘Datsun’ …. Well, you get the idea. When playing with a group, you have to come up with an original answer; if you match another player’s answer, neither of you gets a point.
Playing alone may not be as challenging, since there’s no one to match or challenge your answers, but it will keep your brain thinking about vocabulary. Pick one of the twelve category cards, roll the letter die and set the timer. Then write! Get one round in every morning before breakfast and you’ll not only get your brain in gear early, but you’ll find yourself thinking about words all day long!
The Game of Things – In this hilarious game, players are challenged to think of a specific thing: ‘things you wouldn’t say to a police officer’, ‘things a cow thinks while it’s being milked’, and ‘things you do in your car when nobody is looking’ are just a few examples. Answers are then passed in to the ‘reader’, who shares answers with the group. Players have to guess who wrote each answer. It might surprise you!
To play alone, pick one card and write as many answers as you can in the seconds allotted in the game timer. Your brain (and your hand) will have to work quickly on this one!
Balderdash! – If you have a quick imagination and love words, this game is for you. It provides words that most people have never heard of, with definitions most people wouldn’t dream could be correct! Players create their own definition to a given word and then try to guess the real definition from all the fakes. ‘Fard’, for example, might mean ‘part of a boat rudder’, ‘the seed to a fennel plant’, ‘putting on make-up’ or ‘the act of weaving a basket’. Which one would you pick?
To play alone, pick one Balderdash card and read the words and their actual definitions. Use each word in a sentence and say it aloud. You don’t have to use it in daily conversation, but you might find yourself doing just that!
(Fard means to put on your make-up. Have you farded yet today?)
Games can be a lot of fun. Playing with others offers friendship, fellowship and a break from routine. But by thinking outside the box and adapting rules, they can give you something else – a sharper and active mind.