Community Train Dominoes and Other Social Games

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My endearing and vivacious aunt introduced me, along with other family members, to Community Train Dominoes at a family reunion. She insisted we take a seat at the table so she could instruct us on the rules.


Seniors gather around for a fun game of dominoes at the Swain County Senior Center.

She started by saying “There are many ways to play Community Train Dominoes, but these are my dominoes, so we play by my rules”. Even though we had an inkling that the rules might be prone to change, we were immediately hooked on the game.

In addition to providing laughs and a chance to be the winner, there are many health benefits from playing social games. According to recent research, senior citizens who regularly work to solve puzzles and play interactive social games that require strategy increased their cognitive functioning, including memory.

It’s not only senior citizens who benefit from playing social games. There are many positive aspects of being socially engaged throughout our lifespan. Being social has benefits for all of us, no matter how old or young we are, where we live, or what we do.

Social connections boost our attitude, enhance our self-esteem, reduce risk of illnesses, diseases, mental health disorders and depression. Overall, social interaction leads to a happier and healthier lifestyle and may help to increase the quality and length of life.

Playing games can lighten the spirit and help to keep the mind agile. The brain is a muscle and it needs regular exercise to stay sharp.

dominoesAs adults, when we play games we continue to refine our communication, cooperation and teamwork skills. For example, in dominoes, rules are discussed and agreed upon by the group.

A few other social games and activities include playing cards, checkers, backgammon and Scrabble. Working puzzles with a group can help with problem solving, matching and coordination. Reading groups and book clubs provide mental exercise that improves emotional and intellectual wellness.

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It’s a happy talent to know how to play”. Let’s dust off the Monopoly board, share a few laughs and why not bring back recess?