Boomers from New York to California, and everywhere in-between, are getting together regularly to make friends, have good conversation, and participate in fun games. These “Game Groups” have become a new, fun, form of staying fit especially for your brain. Although people over 50 getting together to play cards is nothing new, Boomers are elevating game nights to the level of a new group sport. They are playing Poker, Mahjong, Black Jack, as well as board games like Trivial Pursuit’s “Baby Boomer” edition. Even lawn games like soccer, badminton and volley ball are popular.
These Game Groups offer a way for people over 50 to socialize, which alleviates depression and isolation – one of the worst things for brain health, says mental health researchers. Although winning is great fun, game nights are more about combining social interaction with brain-challenging skills that have a very beneficial effect on your brain.
Playing group games such as these help people stay physically and mentally fit. Staying socially connected as people get older cuts the risk of dementia onset by a whopping 70%. Researchers predict that by 2025, as a large part of the population is over age 65, more than 7 million Americans may have cognitive-deficit disorders like Alzheimer disease.
Feelings of loneliness and lack of brain challenging stimulation, say researchers, are risk factors for developing these cognitive disorders. St. John’s Institute for Cognitive Health in Jackson, Wyoming regularly holds “Brain Game Challenge” events for anyone who wants to attend. They include word games, trivia contests, exercise demonstrations, sing-along, and other activities.
Want to join in the fun and gain the great fitness benefits of game night in your town? You can look for a game night group already in progress in your community or start your own. Many church newsletters carry announcements of these groups, as do local recreational centers, or civic associations.
To start your own, simply decide which card or board game, lawn or indoor sport, you’d like to play, whose home, or community venue will be the host site. Many local restaurants offer rooms to game night groups in return for participants purchasing meals, snacks, on premises. Invite others to join your game night group by word of mouth to people you already know such as neighbors, friends, relatives, coworkers, and any friends they may want to bring.
Local business rooms like this are a good way to start game nights off especially if you don’t have a lot of room at your home and/or are unsure of inviting people you don’t know well into your home yet. In addition, unless you’re already skilled in an activity and want to teach participants, you’ll want to hire a professional instructor. You can pay them by collecting an equal fee from each participant. The most important thing is creating a group of people with the same goal – socializing, practicing old game skills or learning few ones, and having fun!