6 Major Memory Care Benefits of Playing Chess Saturday, February 25, 2023 Chess has been around for about 1500 years. Originating in northern India and spreading throughout Asia, chess made its way across the world, evolving over the years until the 1880s when it became the game we know so well today. As a complex board game, chess has long been associated with intellectual strength, making it a great option for individuals looking to maintain their mental health. A 2019 scientific study conducted in Spain found that playing chess could be used as a protective measure in developing dementia. If you or a loved one are experiencing memory challenges, chess may be a helpful pass time to retain or strengthen your cognitive abilities. Here are six major benefits to playing chess to keep your brain sharp: 1. Understand Another’s Perspective A big part of playing chess successfully is to learn how to anticipate your opponent’s future moves. Putting yourself in someone else’s perspective is an important skill to have as it improves empathy and social understanding, both of which you may struggle with if you’re experiencing Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. 2. Flex Your Memory Muscles It will come to no surprise that chess players have strong memory skills. For professional players, memorizing complex moves is very important when competing or training. For more amateur players, however, recognizing visual patterns can help improve your memory skills over time. Chess offers you a fun, competitive pastime with built-in memory training. 3. Stay Focused Chess is played between two players, each taking turns to move individual pieces across a checkerboard. This back and forth forces the players to remain engaged in the moment and focused on the progression each move has on the overall match. Remaining attentive and in-the-moment is a great skill to practice for strengthening your mental strength. 4. Practice Strategic Planning A game of chess can involve a lot of planning ahead to outsmart your opponent. Strategic thinking is the process of identifying a goal, making a plan, and accounting for possible issues along the way. Planning ahead utilizes your complex thinking skills, memory function, and cognitive understanding. 5. Lean into Creative Thinking A chess match not only involves strategic planning, but also creative thinking. With every move, a new scenario can begin to form. Playing chess is a lot like telling a story, weaving one sentence into another, going in whatever direction you choose. As long as you’re playing within the rules of the game, chess offers numerous possibilities for creativity. 6. Utilize Your Coping Skills Playing chess is not always easy. A heated game can occasionally cause stress due to its competitive nature. A chess match can offer you the opportunity to work through your response to stress and practice new coping skills. Practicing your coping skills can increase your self-awareness, helping you respond more effectively to stressful situations in other areas of your life as well. Chess is a great option when weather forces you to stay inside. Enjoy quality time with loved ones or friends while retaining and strengthening your cognitive abilities. Get started today by pulling out your chess board, finding a worthy opponent, and adding chess to your weekly or daily schedule to keep your mind sharp. Willow River is Here to Help At Willow River, we understand the challenges Alzheimer’s and dementia can bring. If you have questions or need help, Willow River has the answers and resources to assist you in this transition. Call Willow River Senior Living at 888-546-1886 or contact us through our website to start the conversation today.