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."