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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday, 27 May: Do I really have to?

Do I really have to play bridge to stay young? Remember a trick to remain sharp when I am an octogenarian?

A recent article in the New York Times Online cites some of the latest in aging research. Longitudinal studies of the elderly in a Californian-based retirement settlement suggest that bridge players over 90 show lower incidence of age-related dementia. Bridge players, the researchers say, regularly exercise their short term memory and remain mentally alert. Now I know that's good news for the genteel ladies portrayed above (and all my dear bridge-playing friends) but anything short of Snap played with my granddaughters just bores me to tears. Shuffle the cards and a hundred conversation topics come to my mind: "Have you read...? Have you seen...? Have you tasted...? What do you think of...? " And card players do not take kindly to chatty interruptions.

After bridge, the researchers discuss the merits of crossword puzzles and Sudoka's. Equally good for you; equally boring to me. I love to untangle a metaphor; to muse on theological mysteries; to hold a quilt pattern upside down to figure out how to join the blocks but a series of problem-solving riddles for fun? Never! I couldn't even manage multiple choice questions at school.

However, if you can't play bridge or do Sudokas, the experts continue, to miss the effects of Alzheimers and the like, you require a certain anti-aging gene carried by members of the Ashkenanzi Jewish community. Oh dear! I lose out again. Big time.

So what is left? Ah - quoth the experts - they are not really sure if it's just the gene or the bridge. It may be the social interaction that takes place at the bridge table that prevents the brain deteriorating prior to one's hundredth birthday. Respite at last! I shall nuture my many friends and keep up my social interaction to the end. And I shall recall the promise in Psalm 91: "With long life I shall satisfy him and show him My salvation."


Poetikat said...

What a great post! I'm sure with the sort of person you are Eleanor, your social network will keep you vibrant for a very long time.

Don't forget to pick up your award.


Ms.Daisy said...

I think is may well be the cury, cumin and tumeric in your recipe for Bobotie that will keep you young and vibrant for a very long time! :0)

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Eleanor.....I like to play SkipBo and Phase10.
I have never played Bridge but the 102 year old woman I met in Natchez is sharp as a tack and she plays twice a week and has since she was a young bride! Maybe something to that, maybe I should look into a bridge club! HA!
Good to hear from you sweetie! XOXO

jeannette stgermain said...

No you don't have to, Eleanor! I hate any board game as well, with a passion.
Having done research myself, I wonder which variables they used. There is also evidence that certain ethnic tribes live a very long life, such as the Berbers in South East Euope - for sure, they don't do bridge, LOL. Also remember, these research findings pertain only to that one elder-community in California.

Vicki Lane said...

I suspect that any activity that keeps challenging one's mind with new things will ward off some of that old age decline -- never stop learning!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I'll settle for a combination of giraffe hopscotch and blogging!

Avril said...

I go with giraffe hopscotch and blogging too! My mum played bridge for years and has first stages of Alzheimers now at the age of 81 - oh no then it's in the genes - no hope for me.... let's play hopscotch!!

Janet said...

Oh I couldn't agree with you more. I DETEST playing cards and I'm not much good at Suduko or crosswords - I'll go with Avril though - join you at hopscotch! We can always go for a home-made lemonade and decent conversation afterwards! :)

Janet said...

PS I do love your garden!

Janet said...

Thanks for stopping by for a visit on my blog. I loved reading this post! I'm not a card player (unless you count the occasional solitaire on the computer!)and I was terrible at story problems in school. Forget Sudoko. I'm glad there's still hope for me!!

Anonymous said...

I don't like cards, games or fiction. I love current events, politics, finding out about people, places, and things all over the world, and figuring out real-life situations. Am I doomed?

Charlotte said...

I never learned to play bridge but right now I'm hooked on Free Cell solitaire on the computer. My excuse for playing so much is that I'm trying to prevent dementia. Hope it works.

Cass @ That Old House said...

Ugh, I am not a fan of board games either... bored with them, haha! Or any games! I think it is the social interaction, personally. My parents isolated themselves in a beach house after retirement -- it was not good for them. My Mom has Alzheimer's and my sister is NUTS about finding a way to avoid it herself, including the games, etc. I figure, just keep busy and challenged -- which is good at ANY age, and for all reasons.

Love your blog -- especially the gorgeous outdoor shots, and your adorable doggies, too!


The Quintessential Magpie said...

Very, very thought provoking post, Eleanor!

I hate bridge. The only time I played it I played with a Type A, win-at-all-costs type of partner, and I found it bringing out the temper I thought I didn't have. LOL! It was insufferable, but maybe it was just the company. ;-) It didn't help that I was a newbie and needed cheat sheets to play. We won, but it was more like a Phyrric victory for me with the end result being that I will not go near a bridge table again.

I can't believe that playing bridge helps you ward off the big A. Tell that to the person I know who was not only a top notch surgeon, but a diehard bridge player.


Sheila :-)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

No, you do not have to play bridge Eleanor. :) I believe in any activity which stimulates the mind will keep you young and there are so many to choose from. The people who get old fastest are those who sit around all day doing nothing. What a waste of a life!!

Greyscale Territory said...

What ever positive explorations you choose to spark the brain cells must be a healthy diet for the aging! I have no problem at all! I can't give up teaching high school students, so that will keep my mind alert!

Barbara Martin said...

I don't think bridge will do the trick as my late mother had Alzheimers and she played bridge regularly. To bridge the gap one would have to make dietary changes and to avoid all manner of aluminum pots, pans, tinfoil, etc.

A good tonic I use to keep my mind clear is 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water and a couple of drops of honey, every morning before breakfast. It is important to keep well hydrated throughout the day.

pammiejo said...

I wonder if you have to get better when you play for it to be beneficial. I do play bridge but in the 25 years I've played, I don't think I'm any better! I do like to play games and I have my own Nintendo in order to use Brain Academy plus it has Sudoku on it. I'm glad to hear it's going to benefit me!

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