Crossword Puzzles (Or Turning Intellectual Somersaults)

Surely the first thing that flashes through your mind is: 4 Down; what it Pinky Lee's real name? 16 Across; who created the Polio vaccine? 32 Down; what is the fourth estate? 64 Across; to voice a thought? They say; eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away. There are rumors that working a crossword puzzle a day keeps the shrink away. Well, at least it will keep you on the cognizant, sunny side of reality.

Keeping your mind alert and active and geared up for that poker game or bridge club by solving crossword puzzles is elementary to staving off dementia (which is described as the progressive decline in cognitive function because of damage or disease in the brain beyond what might be expected from normal aging), something you must try to avoid if you want to be able to tie your own shoes after retirement.

You have to call a Spade a Spade in any game. Remember, it is not only the physical body seniors need to keep healthy, but also the mind and spirit. Running and walking are important for physical fitness, but thinking and remembering are good for mental health.

And also remember, you can not go running, biking, hiking, or even driving if you can not remember where you left your house.

Crossword puzzles are especially challenging because of their diversity. Each question is completely unique and the next question usually comes from a different category than the one before it. It challenges your knowledge in multiple areas from history to movies to chemistry to current news, and on and on, and bounces around like a ping-pong ball in a tornado. So, as you fill in the little squares, your mind never gets bored and is constantly turning intellectual somersaults as the synapses hop from one memory to another stored between your ears.

Mental exercises are easier than physical exercises because you do not have to leave your chair, or take a couple of aspirins after a good workout to kill the pain. Drinking a good cup of coffee or tea will do.

According to a 21-year study in the US, seniors who worked crossword puzzles four days a week had a 47 percent lower risk of dementia than those who did puzzles only once a week. Affected areas in cognition may be memory, attention, language, problem solving, remembering your friends' names, and the time and channel for your favorite TV shows. Higher mental functions are affected first in the process. Participating in mentally challenging aerobics or leisure activities such as crosswords (even Jumble or Sudoku), reading, and playing board games may help you stay mentally sharp.
If you participate in these mentally challenging leisure activities, you have a lower risk of intellectual deterioration than other seniors.

There are certain terms being avoided here which describe places that are frightening, out of bounds, and where you do not want to live or to visit or think about: Bedlam, crazy house, cuckoo's nest, funny farm, funny house, loony bin , madhouse, nut house, nuthouse, sanatorium, or snake pit. Scary terms, huh; and maybe on the extreme side, but they could have on the horizon without the miracle called a crossword puzzle.

So, begin the mental flip flops. Did you know that: Pincus Leff; Salk; press; and opine were the answers in the first paragraph.

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