Aging Well: The Bridge Boosts Brain Benefits

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Regularly playing bridge is a powerful way to improve cognitive health and even physical health, as well as to socialize.

This bi-weekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginiaa forward-thinking life plan community for those 62 and older.

Whether you indulge in a weekly game of bridge with friends or compete in tournaments to earn master points, playing the game pays off “in spades” when it comes to maintaining and even improving cognitive health.

“It’s a great way to maintain memory processing skills, as well as challenge your basic logic skills. It’s great fun!” says Eleanor Linde, who plays regularly five times a week. Eleanor lives in McLean and is looking forward to moving to The Mather, a Life Plan community coming to Tysons in 2024. “Bridge is a wonderful way to connect with people,” says Eleanor. “I’m glad a bunch of future Mather neighbors have met once already.”

Van and Fran Hitch are also avid bridge players who move to The Mather. When Fran retired, the couple decided to take bridge lessons together and were hooked. “I thought it was just a game I was learning,” Van said. “But I quickly discovered that it involved a lot of strategy and communication with your partner.”

Research shows that those who regularly play bridge can reap a handful of valuable health benefits, regardless of skill level.

brain training

Regular playing of cards and board games has been proven to help us retain our mental acuity later in life, improve performance on cognitive tests, and even protect against the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Bridge in particular is a rigorous mental workout, requiring concentration, problem solving, and multitasking (including, but not limited to, memorizing played cards and continuously analyzing mathematical odds while noting down verbal and non-verbal cues from other players).

“I’ve read that playing bridge is one of the few hobbies that can boost your brain power — and we’re definitely up for the challenge,” says Fran. “We both like to exercise and keep our bodies in shape. Bridge does that for our brains.

A social exercise

Of course, regular bridge players reap the benefits of social interaction, which is also good for brain health, as well as mood.

“The social part is just as important to us as the game,” says Fran. “From our first lessons, we met really nice people. Some have become very close friends.

A boost for the immune system

A study has found strong evidence that playing bridge protects physical health, as it stimulates the area of ​​the brain responsible for the immune system.

“Bridge is good for you. We look forward to playing with our future neighbors at The Mather,” says Fran.

The MatherSlated to open in Tysons, Virginia in 2024 for ages 62 and older, is a forward-thinking lifestyle community that defies expectations of what senior living is meant to be.

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Richard V. Johnson