Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Reduced by Playing Poker
In a landmark study by Dr. Jefferey Cummings, on connecting the effect of a lack of mental stimulation and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has proven that playing poker, and other critical thinking card games, can reduce the diseases by a dramatic 50%. This comes after a series of studies showing that keeping a mentally active lifestyle after retirement, which is contrary to the traditional leisure lifestyle, is of the utmost importance in battling the cognitive degeneration of the mind.
The Poker-Alzheimer Connetion
In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal Dr. Cummings references a French study that included 5,000 men and women over the age of 65 who enjoy “playing cards just twice a week resulted in a risk reduction of 50 percent for all dementias.” This is a result of performing critical thinking exercises on a regular basis and avoiding the laid back purposeless life of retirement, all through playing cards.
Poker at its core is a critical thinking game where well thought out decisions must be made all the time and give the player a sense of need to think critically. Dr. Cummings focuses on the need to avoid the “norm” of retirement, which is to become laid back and mentally inactive. Playing poker and other card games into retirement can take the place of working beyond normal retirement age, which through Dr. Cummings’ study has proven to significantly reduce the risk of dementia.
What the study is displaying is that to help ward off one of the most disturbing illnesses of our generation is to counter the negative mental effects of retirement. Many people when they stop working after retirement switch off their active brain and shut down critical thinking in favor of the culturally accepted passive retirement state. Dr. Cummings argues that through these studies card games and another active task such as art and building projects have shown great progress in moving away from the passive state of the mind.
Dr. John Powell stresses the adage, “Use it or lose it…The thing to avoid is giving up work early and becoming a couch potato.” There is no other message clearer than that in helping to prevent the mental ravaging of dementia.
Senior Poker Players at Top Levels
To help back this idea of poker helping keep dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at bay, there are a few legendary poker players over the age of 65 still playing at a very high level. The first name that comes to mind for many players is Doyle Brunson, the Godfather of Poker.
Doyle Brunson has reached the age of 77 and to this day remains one of the most respected and active professional poker players in the world. He is one of the most successful poker players in history and remains a dominate player well past 65. Since his 65th birthday Doyle continued his poker dominance by capturing 3 more World Series of Poker bracelets. His latest in 2005 at the age of 71, showing that poker can keep the mind sharp. This doesn’t even take into account his active cash game play in casinos and on television.
The next poker pro that comes to mind is legendary player T.J. Cloutier who won his last World Series of Poker bracelet in 2005 at the age of 66. He also had another bracelet win the year before amounting to 2 bracelet wins after hitting traditional retirement age. He continues to this day, now 71 years young, to play actively in the World Series of Poker cashing 4 times in 2010’s WSOP. Having four cashes in the WSOP is the envy of any poker professional and Cloutier does it when many of his peers are shutting their mind off to active thinking.
Even if poker is not your game the findings show that any active thinking games can help. It isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but with the research pointing to a risk decrease of 50% just by playing poker and other card games just twice a week, it’s difficult to say no to helping stop these devastating diseases.