If you play bridge–whether the serious or sociable kind–you don’t have to live in Florida to offer a comment to that question. And your age doesn’t matter either. Nonagenarians like me (and octogenarians, centenarians too) know that taking up bridge is one of the best life decisions they ever made. How about you health-obsessed under 40? Under 60? 70s I consider transitional–like the 50s used to be. What do you say?
I first used that question as title for Chapter #48 of my book Bridge Table or What’s Trump Anyway? back in 2009. The reason for the quotation marks back then was that the title was taken from a 1998 article in the Vero Beach Press-Journal by Loretta and Ray Copley. Having noted the prevalence of nonagenarians playing bridge at the Spanish Lakes Country Club in Vero Beach, the Copley’s article asked (and answered) the question.
There had been an article early as 1990 in the Journal of Gerontology exploring the remarkable longevity and mental agility of bridge players. But who gets to read that kind of article (unless, like me, you’re researching a book)? I loved coming across the Copley article in a local newspaper with that breezy title, and making the connection between bridge and aging well for the general public.
Since 1990, whether scientifically proven or not, the belief that playing bridge is good for you and may keep you dementia-free into your old age, has made its way into a public perception.
The ACBL’s joint campaign with the Alzheimer’s Association for an annual fundraising event benefitting that organization, called the Longest Day, is ideal for building on this theme–the positive place of bridge when it comes to aging. And it’s an annual event–June 21st, WWII’s Longest Day–so it can only build each year.
In 2013, 160 ACBL clubs around the country held 12-hour bridge-playing competitions. In 2014, I’m hoping the ACBL Longest Day team will encourage clubs to invite local social bridge clubs and players to participate in this fund-raising event. A perfect first step toward bridging that chasm between these two bridge worlds and getting more local publciity.
I won’t be satisfied until learning to play bridge is included in every article on how to age well. Until physical education requirements in schools can be met by a combination walking/bridge activity.
ACBL’s marketing is absolutely on the right track in developing the Longest Day as an annual fundraiser with the Alzheimer’s Foundation–they need to do more. The value of bridge as a lifetime social/mental skill is just too significant NOT to be pursued in promoting bridge to all ages. Even the young who seemingly care nothing about health and growing old, have that attitude because they think they’ll live forever.
Remember–Edmund Hoyle who wrote the first-ever book about whist (direct ancestor of bridge) back in 1742 lived into HIS 90s in an era when life expectancy was probably 50!