Playing Games Is Good for Your Health

What do these phrases have in common? “Come on down!” “I’d like to buy a vowel.” “I’ll take ‘Animals’ for $500, Alex.” “Tag you’re it!” “Duck, duck, duck, GOOSE!” “Bingo!!” “I can name that tune in 5 notes.”

If you said game shows and/or games, then you are correct! Did the phrases conjure up Images and memories of the past? Make you smile? Conjure up feelings that you may not have felt in some time? Games are not only good for your heart they’re also good for your memory and enjoying life.

According to an article on Psych Central, play is just as important for adults as it is for children. Play brings joy, aids in problem solving, and helps keep creativity and relationships strong. Psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD wrote “…it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing… This might seem surprising until you consider everything that constitutes play. Play is art, books, movies, music, comedy, flirting and daydreaming.”

 

Playing Games are Fun and Provide Tremendous Benefits

Dozens of articles and studies have been written on the benefits of playing games throughout all stages of life. The importance doesn’t lessen as one reaches their golden years, in fact, it may be even more important to play games as you age.

 

Samvdna Care has an interesting article outlining 7 wonderful benefits of playing games. These benefits are:

  • Creates happiness and reduces stress: There is always a good amount of laughter. Laughing together and having fun can keep seniors happy and healthy.
  • An opportunity to spend time together and socialize: Often friends and family have different schedules. But playing games, even for a short while, with your loved ones is a perfect way to spend time together.  
  • Memory formation and cognitive skills: Creative indoor games help the brain retain and build cognitive associations well into old age.
  • Keeps the risks for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia at bay: A stronger brain has lower risks of losing its power and thus reduces the risk of cognitive decline, such as associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  • Lowers blood pressure: Laughter helps in producing endorphins that naturally help muscles to relax and blood to circulate which can lower blood pressure.
  • Improves immune system: Positive feelings and thoughts improve immunity by releasing chemicals that fight stress and boosts the immune system.
  • Therapy treatment for coordination and dexterity: Many board games require the use of fine motor skills to pick up or move pieces, actions that take both coordination and dexterity.

 

There are more Options than just Cards and Board Games

Sure, cards and board games are loads of fun in and of themselves, but they are not a begin all and end all to game play. Anything from arts and crafts to social gatherings and bird watching can be options for how someone wants to play and have fun.  

Many places offer free, and/or low cost, craft activities for persons of all ages to enjoy. If none are readily available close to you create one yourself by inviting a few friends over to play. Some crafty ideas to consider are; sketching, painting, quilting, ceramics, jewelry making, and even finger painting! You’d be amazed at the fabulous works that can be created with finger painting. Plus, the sensation of making a controlled mess can be quite freeing.

Social gatherings are another form of important play that further incorporates socialization as well.  From costume contests, to karaoke, to trivia the ideas of things to do in a social gathering are endless. This is yet another option that is free, and/or low-cost, depending on where you go or if you host it yourself.

Bird watching, along with gardening and other outside activities, allows the play to be brought to the great outdoors. Sunshine, fresh air, and communing with nature are beneficial for your wellbeing. Many local areas host community gardens or may have local farms that can be visited for free or for a low cost.

For a more complete listing of ideas visit: Great Senior Living

 

But Cards and Board Games are also Important Options

The added benefits of the more traditional games include being well-known with a lower learning curve than other options, being readily available, and often played. If traditional games are more to your liking be sure to check out the items on sale this week.

Marinoff Low Vision Playing Cards enable individuals with vision problems to more easily see the numbers on the cards. They come with 1.25-inch-high numbers. (SKU: 308250)

Jumbo Braille Dominoes (Double Six) (Raised Dots) are standard double six dominoes that have raised, tactile, black colored dots. Great for any domino game, jumbo pieces measure 1″ x 2″. Includes a black storage case. (SKU: GAM105)

Tactile Connect Four has holes in one color of the pieces so that those who are blind or visually impaired can play tactually. Drop the chips vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The first person to get four of their pieces in a row win. (SKU: 188643)

 

Looking to order other types of games? Check out ila’s Games and Education.

 

This post was written by Alicia Baucom

Why Reading is So Good for Seniors

Reading is good for seniors on several levels. It can help prevent dementia, it can help prevent depression, and it also increases our capacity for empathy. So regularly reading high-quality material can benefit both your mental and emotional health.

 

All reading materials are not created equal. The “wrong” kind of material would be anything that may work against your goals. For example, if you only read your Facebook feed all day, you won’t get the same kinds of benefits. In fact, you may become more depressed if you struggle with comparing yourself to others. The “right” kind of material includes books, newspapers, and magazines. Literary fiction, novels, and educational nonfiction are all excellent choices.

Reading Prevents Dementia

Psychology Today reported on a  journal article that was written based on an observation of 300 older adults. They participated in a study to examine the effects of reading on seniors. After the participant’s deaths, their brains were examined for physical signs of dementia. The study concluded:

 

“Those people who reported that they read, were protected against brain lesions and tangles and self-reported memory decline over the 6-year study. In addition, remaining an avid reader into old age reduced memory decline by more than 30%, compared to engaging in other forms of mental activity. Those who read the most had the fewest physical signs of dementia…”

 

So even though all forms of mental activity are helpful (Don’t put down your Sudoku puzzle just yet!), reading seems to be one of the most beneficial in maintaining your mental acuity.

Reading Prevents Depression

Reading can also prevent depression. The science on this is not entirely clear, but that’s probably because reading lifts people’s moods due to a variety of different factors.

 

Readers are more likely to socialize by going to the library, going to bookstores, attending reading groups, and exchanging books with friends.

 

Some readers feel that books alleviate loneliness, as they start to feel they are friends with the characters.

 

Similarly, books give readers a window into someone else’s world. When a reader sees a character tackling a problem similar to one they might have, it gives the reader hope and a sense that they aren’t alone in their struggles.

 

Reading can boost your mood and help you relax, which changes the chemicals in your brain. Reading has even been shown to have an effect similar to meditation.

Reading Increases Empathy

Don’t want to turn into a grump? One of the best benefits of reading is that it increases empathy.  However, this benefit is only gleaned from reading literary fiction. Popular fiction and nonfiction books don’t provide the same value.

 

According to Scientific American, “Literary fiction, by contrast, focuses more on the psychology of characters and their relationships. “Often those characters’ minds are depicted vaguely, without many details, and we’re forced to fill in the gaps to understand their intentions and motivations…This genre prompts the reader to imagine the characters’ introspective dialogues. This psychological awareness carries over into the real world, which is full of complicated individuals whose inner lives are usually difficult to fathom. Although literary fiction tends to be more realistic than popular fiction, the characters disrupt reader expectations, undermining prejudices and stereotypes. They support and teach us values about social behavior, such as the importance of understanding those who are different from ourselves.”

 

ILA wants to encourage you to read more by making your reading experience more comfortable. That’s why we’ve put reading accessories on sale this week. Check out the Easy Reader Stand, Moshi Elite Neck Pillow, and Posture-Rite Lap Desk on our Sales page today.

3 Fun Outdoor Exercises for Seniors

When trying to come up with outdoor exercises for seniors, it’s easy to default to the most obvious activities. Walking, swimming, and cycling are commonly recommended for older adults who need to get outside and move.

 

But sometimes those exercises sound like more work than fun. That’s why we’ve compiled three outside-the-box activities that can help you get moving while retaining the fun factor.

 

Play as Exercise

Playing outdoors is one of the most overlooked exercise opportunities for adults. We tend to want everything organized and official. That’s why we join sports teams or running clubs.

 

But if you think about the way small children stay active, you’ll realize their exercise comes naturally through play. Why can’t adults play, too?

 

The easiest way to do this is to join your kids or grandkids out in the yard for a pickup game. No matter whether you are playing tag, soccer, baseball, or hide-and-seek, your grandkids will just be happy you’re spending time with them. And you’ll be getting some exercise.

 

You can also play alone or with adults. Go fly a kite in the park. Start a game of horseshoes or cornhole. Put up a badminton net in your yard. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you are having fun.

Garden to Stay Healthy

The BBC recently released an article that proclaimed, “Gardening could be the hobby that helps you live to be 100.”

 

The benefits of gardening are both physical and mental. Physical exercise comes from walking, squatting up and down, carrying supplies, and doing other things that require strength.

 

One benefit that isn’t exercise-related is that spending more time outdoors boosts both mood and vitamin D levels. Another is that staying cognitively active as you plan your garden can help prevent dementia. Also, if you garden fruits or vegetables, eating what you grow can contribute to a healthier diet.

 

Take your Indoor Equipment Outside

Do you get bored doing your at-home exercises? Staring at the wall or TV just isn’t that fun. A simple way to remedy that is to take your indoor equipment outside. As soon as the weather is nice, move your stationary exercise sessions to the yard. You can have the benefits of outdoor exercise without having to actually go somewhere.

 

This week ILA has several items on sale that can help you get moving- inside or out.

 

Enjoy bicycle-type exercise from your chair or place the unit on a table to exercise arms. Our pedal exerciser helps you improve circulation and muscle strength. It’s made of heavy-duty steel with a large knob to adjust for variable resistance. It also features comfortable pedal straps to help hold your feet in place while in use.

 

The Multifunction Talking Pedometer measures and announces steps, calories, distance, and total activity time. And just in case you have so much fun exercising that you lose track of time, it has an audio clock function. The pause function allows you to stop and resume measurement as needed, and it has a 7-day memory to track and log your activity.

 

The Braille and Tactile Yoga Mat is designed to enable people who are blind, vision impaired, or who may face physical challenges due to age or disability, to practice yoga safely and confidently. This Yoga Mat is designed in three dimensions, with tactile raised and depressed features called ”stations” strategically placed to help the challenged yoga student feel where his or her hands, feet, and head should be placed for all 24 basic yoga postures. Designed for a person of average size (5′ 3″ or taller), the Yoga Mat for the Visually Impaired easily accommodates individuals who are shorter or taller who need only to adjust their stride for a comfortable fit.

What’s Right for You?: Choosing Adaptive Aids and Equipment

When you first start experiencing frustration with a health situation, it’s easy to go overboard in your efforts to try to find something that will mitigate the problem. Discovering what “works” can be a process of trial and error. Often at your own expense.

 

Before throwing money at any and every potential solution, take some time for an evaluation process. Use these questions as a checklist to help you determine what type of aid or equipment is best for you.

 

  1. Does it do what you need it to do?

Maybe your hearing has become worse, and you need a new, louder alarm clock. Don’t just randomly buy new ones, hoping they will have the right sound. Do your research to find clocks that have options for extra loud alarms, different types of sounds, and possibly even vibrations or bed-shaker options. You want to make sure the item is going to do what you need it to do before spending your money. Also, consider getting something with features that can grow with you. Maybe you don’t need a vibration feature now, but in a few months you may wish you had it.

 

  1. Is it a manageable size?

Whether considering a rollator walker or a pill container, consider the size of the item. Do you have room to store it? Can you carry it easily? Even if a piece of equipment is relatively small, it won’t be functional unless you have a good place to put it. An example of that is a talking pill container. Some of these containers are a bit bulky because they include built-in clocks and speakers. If you currently use a small pill sorter that stays inside a cabinet, will you be able to easily switch to something that needs more space and is less portable?  And if you are looking for a walker, will it fit into your vehicle or down the halls of your home?

 

  1. Is it a good fit for your physical abilities?

Sure, that cane looks snazzy, but if you really need to be using a walker, it may not be a good purchase. Make sure the item you buy fits your physical abilities. Be honest about possible limitations in seeing, hearing, or mobility. Another consideration is ergonomics. If you’ve had a stroke, there are adaptive utensils that can help you eat. But if you also have arthritic fingers, you should examine handle size and shape to make sure the utensils are manageable with that condition as well.

 

  1. Have you asked your doctor or therapist about it?

Doctors and therapists often have good ideas as to which aids work and which ones don’t. They also understand your health history and may think of warnings or considerations that are specific to your situation. Every little thing doesn’t require a healthcare consult, but if you are considering a piece of equipment, it’s in your best interest to get a professional opinion first.

 

  1. Can you afford it?

Even if you feel like you would pay anything just to solve your problem, don’t buy the first thing that comes along. Shop around and compare prices. Or wait until you see your favorite item go on sale. That’s why ILA puts items on sale each week. We try to make independent living affordable for our customers.