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Your Healthy Family: How word games boost brain health

Posted at 8:07 AM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 08:12:01-04

Just about everyone is playing the online word puzzle "Wordle" these days. Health experts say games like Wordle help keep your brain healthy.

Whether you’re spending hours doing crossword puzzles, or just a few minutes on the daily Wordle, doctors say playing word games on a regular basis is good for your brain.

“My idea about those types of word games is if you enjoy them, and they’re giving you a challenge, you can’t do it on auto pilot. You really need to think about it. Then it’s really serving you a good purpose in terms of supporting your brain health for life,” Dr. Jessica Caldwell, a Neuropsychologist for Cleveland Clinic, said.

Mayflower — a leading non-profit for residential aged care — said the benefits of word games include:

  • Improved thinking
  • Improved problem-solving skills
  • Better cognitive function
  • Reduced risk of dementia
  • Increased brain stimulation

If word games aren’t your thing, Dr. Caldwell said other puzzle games, like Sudokus, and even watching a documentary or reading a book, then having an in-depth conversation about it with a friend have similar benefits. She said anything that gives you a learning experience or cognitive challenge is what’s most important.

"To keep your memory and your thinking sharp, the key is really challenge and learning. Those are the only ways that you’re really actually exercising your brain. You’re growing new neural pathways, you’re supporting the old neural pathways. So the key is you can’t just be busy," Dr. Caldwell said.

Word games also build social connections by creating conversations, which is also good for your brain health