The Mental Health Benefits of Chess for Seniors

Chess is often misunderstood as a game only for very intelligent or academic types of personalities. Although having a good head on your shoulders definitely helps you play well, there is evidence enough to hypothesize that the game itself makes you smarter and protects your brain from cognitive decline.

The National Institutes of Health looked at the various factors in preventing Alzheimer’s in their booklet from 2017. The pamphlet stated in one section: “Staying cognitively active … through mentally stimulating activities … such as playing games are linked to keeping the mind sharp.” Chess happens to involve cognitively stimulating activities like planning, analysis, and problem-solving which help build the brain’s reserves, enabling the brain to keep functioning normally even if part of it has been damaged.

The board game not only stimulates the use of both sides of the brain, but also engages all six parts of the brain: short-term memory, long-term memory, linguistic analysis & processing, critical thinking & analysis, visual-spacial processing, and assessment of possible outcomes, risks, and effects.

It also stimulates the brain to grow more dendrites, which are structures in the brain that assist neurons in communicating with one another. The more dentrites you grow, the better your brain works!

So whether you are looking to keep your mind sharp, or simply to make some memories with your grandchildren, try playing a game of chess!