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The Benefits of Playing Mah Jongg

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, nearly six million older adults have Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

Staying more physically and mentally active can lower the risk. Have you heard we need to move it or lose it??

Playing Mah Jongg has been shown to have numerous benefits on cognitive function. An important reward of playing the game is that it helps to improve memory and concentration. The game requires that players recognize and distinguish symbols on the tiles, remember tiles that have been played, and strategize their moves based on the tiles in their own hand.

Mah Jongg is a tile game in which 14 tiles are combined to create a winning hand. Players must verbally and correctly name their discarded tile, listen to opponents announce their discard, look at the discards to see that the tile discarded was named correctly, and pay attention to opponents’ exposures of tile melds. Auditory, visual, and tactile senses are used during game play which help players perceive and make decisions. This constant mental engagement can improve focus and memory.

One of my newest acronyms to use during Maj play is LBD, no, not little black dress, but....

LOOK Before Discard. As has happened to many a Maj player, we can forget to SHOP (redeem a Joker) on an opponent's exposure when a Joker is available to replace. As you are preparing to discard a tile, hold it in your hand and look around the table if there are exposures....then discard your tile. This may help you to avoid missing a "shopping" opportunity!

Mah Jongg also promotes problem-solving skills. Players must often analyze their options and consider the best course of action based on the tiles they have and the combinations they are trying to create. Players rearrange and manipulate their tiles and decide on the most favorable hand with multiple back up hands in mind, if possible. The process of analyzing, making decisions, and strategizing helps to develop critical thinking skills. Mah Jongg provides players with challenging ways to keep their brain synapses firing and has a positive impact on both the mind and body.

Mah Jongg has also been shown to have social and emotional benefits. The game is typically played in a group setting which promotes social interaction and can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. A team of researchers at the University of Georgia concluded that Mah Jongg players who consistently play the game have lower rates of depression. Communication skills and attention to game etiquette can foster a sense of community among players.

Many former students have shared that they have made lifelong friendships from learning and playing this marvelous game!

I have been playing Mah Jongg with Julie and Laurie for over 20 years and Marla joins us for Maj play whenever she is in Arizona. Mah Jongg has strengthened our forever friendship and I cherish the times we share playing our favorite game!

Are there any better reasons for playing Mah Jongg???

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