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84-year-old artist guides others toward healthy aging

November 5, 2014

Inspiration can hit when you least expect it. For 84-year-old artist and educator Faith Ringgold, Senior Planet reported that it was during a game of Sudoku, a popular numbers puzzle that has entertained and challenged players since its creation in the '90s. As a self-proclaimed visual person, Ringgold was frustrated that she would have to discard her puzzles upon completing them - the numbers and plain grids weren't exciting for her to look at. That's when she decided to put her own artistic spin on the popular game and create one called Quiltuduko.

"I mean, there were some games that had colors but that was just background for the numbers," she told the source. "I thought, 'Why not just create my own nine images to correspond to the numbers?'"

Creating Quiltuduko puzzle
Ringgold created digital and printed versions of the game that include artwork with bold colors and influences from her African heritage, reported Senior Planet. Bright magentas, electric blues and corals make up the puzzle that was once nothing more than numbers over a basic grid. In September, 50 of her designs were made available on iTunes, and she has no plans on stopping anytime soon. In fact, one of her ideas is to create a design using a variety of President Obama's facial expressions. As an artist with roots in political drawings, this design is characteristic of her origins.

More than just a creative way to display her art, the game was also created to inspire older adults to participate in a healthy activity that could keep them mentally engaged.

"Sure, there may be physical things that at this stage of my life I can't do, but there are other things, like my Quiltuduko," she told the source. "And I really hope it can in some way enhance the lives of others my age. I'm really excited about it."

Healthy effects of brain games
Research shows that older adults who participate in brain training activities like Ringgold's game can help improve their cognitive processes. A study conducted in January 2014 and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society included about 3,000 adults whose average age was 74 at the beginning of the trial. After five years of regular memory, reasoning ability and processing speed training, participants had better cognitive function than those who didn't engage in the activities. They were also better able to prepare meals and manage their finances and medications. Games like these, and any other activity that promotes cognitive and social engagement, can have a major positive benefit on users' health.