Recently, police raided a Florida retirement community, putting an end to a weekly mahjong played by four women, ages 87 to 95. According to a story in the Heritage Florida Jewish News, Zelda King, one of the accused offenders, claimed that a “troublemaker” who “lives in building 11” called on the police to put a stop to the game. After the police raided and closed down the clubhouse where the “illegal” game was being played, they returned several times during the week to make sure the scofflaws hadn’t returned to their criminal ways.
As it turns out, the game wasn’t illegal under Florida law. In fact, King, who is the youngest of the group at a mere 87 years old, says her neurologist recommended she play these kinds of games. According to her neurologist, mahjong is one of the best games for the elderly to play because it can delay or possibly prevent dementia.
So, is the neurologist right? According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading national organization for Alzheimer’s Disease, research shows that keeping your brain active clearly has a positive effect. An active brain may even be able to generate new brain cells and build a reserve of brain cells and connections. One study, conducted by researchers at King’s College in London and funded by the Alzheimer’s Association, found that playing online games that challenge reasoning and memory skills can also help improve everyday skills such as shopping, cooking and managing personal finances.
Playing mahjong or online games isn’t the only way to keep an active brain. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests you could also work on crossword puzzles, attend lectures or plays, enroll in continuing education courses through the University of Arizona or Pima Community College, or garden. Whatever activity you choose, keeping your brain active is vital to living well in your retirement years.
So keep those mahjong tiles moving. And to the troublemakers in building 11, put the phone down and come enjoy a game with us.