The positive impact of card games on mental health and acuity
Published on by Adam
Card games are a great way to relax and unwind in a social setting but did you know that they can also boost your mental health? Today we talk about the many different ways card games can improve memory, critical thinking and more.
The positives of play
For young animals, humans included, play is an extremely important learning tool. Babies use play to learn crucial skills like language, social cues, dexterity and many others, simply through play.
As adults, the role of play is often forgotten but it is no less important. Playing card games serves a number of purposes, not least as a way to relax. Card games bring people together, creating a social setting that is conducive to forging relationships, picking up tiny behavioural cues (this is especially useful in poker) and honing thinking skills. Short-term memory is certainly put to work during card games, as is the critical evaluation that determines how well a player understands the rules and applies them to their current game situation.
In essence, while your body is taking a rest during a card game, your brain is fully active and engaged. And you know what they say about brain power – use it or lose it!
For folks with disabilities, card games are often used by their therapists to help boost important cognitive skills at all stages. Card games can be used to improve counting, matching, basic maths and pattern identification skills. Memory and recall skills are also exercised during such games.
Card-playing also offers an opportunity to practice strategy and as players improve, they have the chance to get creative, predicting potential outcomes and planning future moves.
And just like for all other players, the social element of card games cannot be understated. Social skills like turn-taking, obeying rules and honest play are all involved in playing with other people and card games offer the opportunity for social interaction within a structured environment – something that people with autism, for instance, find very useful.
Playing games can also help a person develop self-confidence by letting them participate in an activity as equals to their partners. The only prerequisite is an understanding of the rules – physical or social impediments do not come into play once the game begins, offering a break from the restrictions of disability.
For older players, the chance to flex their brain muscles is an important part of retaining mental acuity in later life. Aside from being entertaining, card games offer the kind of regular brain stimulation that can help delay the effects of degenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease.
Card games help to keep players social and this is particularly important when isolation becomes a risk factor for other health issues. Older people, who perhaps do not have family close by or friends to spend time with, are more likely to develop depression and be susceptible to injury. Having a regular card game date means that players have opportunity to socialize and have someone else looking out for their wellbeing.
The next best thing
While nothing can beat the experience of a real live game with friends around a table, modern technology has come close to bridging that gap. Players can enjoy the thrill of the card game of their choice and the fun of social interaction without having to leave the comfort of their own homes.
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