I was at the endodontic’s office this week, filling out some new patient paperwork. The stuff they wanted to know about my past medical history was pretty standard; questions I have answered a million times. No big deal. That is until I got stalled on the question regarding what medications do I take. For the life of me, I could not remember the names of the two prescriptions I have been taking for over 15 years. I sat there for five minutes, trying to retrieve deep down in my brain, using all kinds of recall exercises, what those dumb medications were. Finally, I just gave up and handed in my incomplete paperwork, feeling like a failure. I told the receptionist I was such a looser because I could not remember what my medications were. Her response? “That’s O.K. It happens all the time with our older patients. No worries.” Really? No worries? First, she lumped me in to the category of “older” patients and I’m not that old (52 and proud of it). Second, she pointed out that I was doing something that sure seems to be happening a little more often than I would like to admit. I have become very self-conscious (and paranoid) lately whenever I have the occasional forgetful moment. Thankfully, there are things that can be done to slow down and even improve brain activity so that these kinds of episodes become less apparent.
Brain Research and maintaining a healthy brain have long been an interest of mine. I have posted in the past about my worries of losing brain functions and what I do to strengthen my brain abilities. I have also posted on the importance of sleep and good eating habits in maintaining a healthy, active brain. I am always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to reinforce these truths. Recently, I was introduced to an on-line web site, Cranium Crunches, which incorporates the findings of brain research into fun activities that stimulate brain function for all ages.
The idea for Cranium Crunches was developed by psychologist Ruth Curran. As she watched her aging parents’ cognitive abilities decline due to illness, she knew she wanted to help them. The traditional treatments being given to them were found to be either too clinical, too childish or uninteresting. Wanting to maintain their dignity as well as restore within them an interest in their own lives, Ruth developed daily fitness exercises for their brains consisting of a series of photo based puzzles. Her original ideas are the basis for the Cranium Crunches web site, providing a safe place for individuals to practice those skills that might be slipping and improve focus, all while viewing cool photos and telling stories.
I was intrigued when I heard about Cranium Crunches and could immediately see applications for all kinds of people. Children and teens could play with it as a way to keep their brains stimulated during school downtime. Adults could engage in it as a fun activity to break up the monotony of their work day. Families could challenge each other for a family game night. And I could see myself spending a few minutes each day using the web site to sharpen and improve my brain capabilities. What also appealed to me about Cranium Crunches is that it is free, requires no subscription, no plan, no commitment. Just a desire to come and play.
When I visited the website, http://www.craniumcrunches.com, I found it easy to maneuver around. You can access the games either from the homepage or go directly to
http://www.craniumcrunches.com/gameslist.php. There are six games, each having different levels that you can choose to play. Each game provides directions and tells you what brain functions are being stimulated. There are time limits and when you finish, your score is displayed so you can see how well you did. You can then either replay the game for a better score, go on to the next level for a bigger challenge, or switch to another game.
I tried all six games. My favorite (and the one I did the best on) is called Memory Match.
It totally reminded me of the Original Memory game that I used to play with my kids. You know, the game where you laid cards face down to form a grid and when it was your turn, you turned over two cards, hoping to make a match. (My kids’ favorite was matching the mother animals with their baby animals. Good times). The Cranium Crunch version has a grid and you click on two cards at a time to find a match. There are three levels to this game and I was able to ace all three.
The most difficult game for me is called, One of These Things Is Not Like The Others.
You are shown nine pictures and you have to determine which one of the nine is different from the other eight. When you make the right pick, then nine more pictures pop up and you do the same thing until the time runs out. Sometimes, it is down right impossible to try and pick out the minute difference.
All in all, super fun. I found it a great way to improve my skills and play around at the same time. It is a great alternative to playing Solitaire. I highly recommend Cranium Crunches as a way to keep your mind sharp and active, no matter your age. In the words of Ruth Curran: Practice breeds success. Success breeds confidence. And confidence leads to better thinking.
Are you ready to play?
Note: I wrote this blogpost while participating in a campaign by BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf of Cranium Crunches and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.