Much has been written and said of late regarding Baby Boomers. Naturally, as one myself, I take notice as many of us have. A couple of themes seem to be repeated when we talk about boomers; technology and health. It is well known that boomers are well adapted to today’s technology; indeed having invented quite a lot of it. Also boomers are quite concerned about their health especially as we age. One area in particular where health and technology have converged is brain health.
It is widely believed that to maintain mental abilities and sharpness as we age is through keeping the brain active. Like the rest of our body, remaining mentally active as we age is a means to a hopefully healthier old age. Exercising our gray matter is every bit as important as exercising our major muscle groups and good nutrition.
While we can remain mentally healthy by reading or playing challenging games like chess or bridge; another alternative based on recent neural science research and exploiting the internet has emerged. I am referring to the emergence of services such as Lumosity and Posit Science amongst others. I became a user of one of them last autumn after seeing some TV ads they were running in Canada. I signed up for a trial and then decided to sign up for a subscription. These services are all basically about the same and cost pretty much the same for an annual subscription of about $60.
These services provide individuals a fun way to remain mentally sharp. Basically they provide online games which exercise several mental areas such as speed, attention, flexibility, problem solving, and memory in the case of Lumosity. You are encouraged to play a set of games lasting about 20 minutes each day and scores are kept for each category and also overall. Your history is available so that you can chart your progress and compare yourself to your peer group.
While I found the games a bit childish at first with their cute cartoon graphics and old fashioned pin ball machine sounds; I soon realized that these were more challenging than they first appeared because as you become more proficient in one game the level of difficulty increases. Most of the services have about 40 games available covering the five areas of measurement. So you remain constantly challenged and motivated to improve your scores and your ranking within your peer segment. The system also periodically adjusts your training sessions in order to concentrate on your areas of weakness while maintaining your better areas.
I am using my service 5 to 6 times a week since I began and I have improved my scores in the measured areas of speed, flexibility, memory, problem solving, and attention and I am now ranking in the 85th percentile for my age group 55 to 59. When I started in October my initial blended score was about 1/3 of where it is now. So as you use the system and the level of difficulty rises so should your score.
But it’s not the scores that are important. They just feed one’s ego. But they do act as a source of motivation. What is important is that you challenge yourself mentally and as you succeed you will notice you feel sharper overall. Like it has been said; use it or lose it. Like the body the same holds true for the brain. Perhaps keeping ourselves challenged mentally will help us out as we age and hopefully ward off for as long as possible any serious decline in our mental abilities or ward off Alzheimer disease.
In conclusion; I recommend remaining active on all fronts including the brain. Solving crosswords, soduko, chess, and bridge now have a viable alternative provided by science and presented to us through internet based services such as Lumosity, Posit, Fit Brains amongst others.