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Crosswords for Alzheimer’s

For years, many people have worked tirelessly in an effort to solve the puzzle of Alzheimer’s.  Now, we all can take a chance at solving a puzzle FOR the disease.  The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is, for the second year, sponsoring the National Brain Game Challenge, during which players will have 24 hours to solve a crossword puzzle created by respected puzzle master Merl Reagle, whose puzzles are currently found in 45 newspapers nation-wide. .

Starting on Sept. 30, at 3 PM (U.S. Eastern time), anyone age 18 or older will be able to go on-line to access the puzzle, and will then have 24 hours to solve it.  Players must pay an entry fee of $25, but are then eligible to win one of two grand prizes of $2,500, with the remainder of the moneys raised going to support the work of the AFA.  (There will be a number of other prizes as well, and finished puzzles will be judged on speed and accuracy.)

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a non-profit organization (based in New York) with more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide.  Their goal is to provide care and services to individuals with dementia, as well as their families and caregivers.  Some of these services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers, educational materials, and professional training.  The organization can be reached at 1-866-232-8484, or by visiting their website at http://www.alzfdn.org.

It has been documented that it is possible to decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia, by exercising the brain by doing crossword puzzles, playing chess, or engaging in other activities which require a more-than-average amount of concentration.  Various AFA member organizations host Brain Game Challenge events in their communities during the year.  These include visual puzzles, math challenges, and memory games.  They will also be sponsoring National Memory Day activities throughout the country, on November 13, which will include confidential memory screenings and other educational opportunities.

Last year’s National Brain Games Challenge winner, 26-year-old Jeffrey Harris of Norwalk, CT, completed the puzzle in just 43 minutes.  One difference between last year’s event and this year’s, however, is that the inaugural competition had only one category for participants, and some puzzle experts were not allowed to enter.  This year, there will be two categories of competition, one for the “public” and one for “professionals.”  The puzzle may be found at http://www.alzfdn.org/challenge.  Winners will be announced on Oct. 3.

Good luck to all who enter, and have fun!

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