By Anuhya Tadepalli
There hasn’t been a better time than now to bring Chess to relieve age-related mental health issues in a rapidly-aging America.
The world’s population is aging at a fast pace. Between 2015 and 2050, the global population of people aged 65 and older is expected to increase from 900 million to 2 billion. As people move out of the workplace, there is a decrease in mental activity. Mental health challenges are affecting the ability of our seniors to live and enjoy life independently.
Use it or Lose it
The brain, like any other part of the body, starts to deteriorate if we don’t use it. In 2017 alone, Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia cost the United States $259 billion. While there is an increase of attention and investment for care and cure for age-related dementia, there is little to no effort being directed toward lifestyle changes early on in order to prevent or slow the advance of dementia.
The ancient game of chess has been shown to provide innumerable benefits for the elderly. Chess provides an opportunity for socialization and helps strengthen overall mental health. Chess stimulates both the left and right hemispheres of the brain providing balanced exercise, thus resulting in better mental capacity and information retention. Chess also helps the growth of dendrites (along which nerve impulses travel from cell to cell), which in turn improves the performance of the brain. Research has linked chess to lower rates of dementia in active players. Of all current chess grandmasters, none show signs of dementia.
We formed Chess for a Cause in order to bring the benefits of chess to the doorsteps of seniors in our community through volunteer work from high school students. The Chess for a Cause team visits senior care, memory care and assisted-living facilities across the metro Atlanta area and introduces them to the game of chess. In addition to teaching and playing chess, we also work on other social causes, like Alzheimer’s research and making our communities age-friendly.
The Chess for a Cause team is comprised of high school chess players. We are are looking for volunteers to join the team to spread chess to seniors across Georgia.
This May we are celebrating Older Americans Month with our seniors. We are thankful to Chess Trust and the Georgia Chess Association (http://www.georgiachess.org/) Outreach Team for supporting our efforts through the donation of chess sets. The Georgia chess community is welcome to join this mission by attending our events, sessions, or providing your valuable feedback and ideas on our website: www.chessforacause.com.
We will be at Dorothy C. Benson Senior Multipurpose Facility on May 20, between 11 AM and 2 PM, spreading the message “Age Out Loud – Playing Chess.” https://chessforacause.wixsite.com/chessforacause/event-may
This is our community. Let’s make it age-friendly, one move at a time!