Tri-Cities seniors put on thinking caps for district Brain Games

Sue Guinn Legg • Aug 14, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Area seniors are exercising their minds, expanding their trivia knowledge and brushing up their game-show savvy in preparation for the First Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability district-wide Brain Games.

Coming up Aug. 29 at the new Johnson City Seniors Center at Memorial Park, the competition will pit the winning Brain Games teams from the seniors centers in Elizabethton, Erwin, Johnson City, Kingsport and Rogersville in an academic contest for district honors and an opportunity to advance to the regional competition to be held in September in Knoxville.

An initiative of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, the games will conclude with a state title competition between teams representing each of the state’s three grand divisions to be held in Nashville in October.

The local senior centers’ in-house competitions are already under way and Elizabethton has a winner, the indisputably clever team of Wayne Oliver, Tommy Blevins and Millard Fitzsimmons, who bested four other three-member teams for the center’s Brain Games title.

The Johnson City Seniors Center in-house games will be played Monday from 2-4 p.m., and the public is invited to come see what it’s all about.

Under the format adopted by the commission for the statewide competition, teams made up of three players each will be pooling their knowledge base to answer the questions presented. And for an added element of strategy and risk, they will be placing a point value on their confidence in each category of questioning.

“It was really a lot of fun,” said Kathy Dula, director of the Elizabethton Seniors Center, of the inhouse competition held there July 30.

“They had four sessions of play with a break for snacks. They played the ‘Jeopardy’ music during the time they were given to answer and everybody who was there to watch played along and guessed all the answers during that time, too. So they all had a lot of fun and it ended up pretty close. The point spread between first and second was just a few points.

“It was good brain exercise. And everybody had a good time,” Dula said.

On Aug. 29, the Johnson City Seniors Center will host the district-wide Brain Games match starting at 10 a.m. at its new location in the Memorial Park Community Center at 510 Bert St.

Kathy Whittaker, director of the Area Agency on Aging, said the district champions will be presented with a plaque with the team’s name engraved on a plate. The plaque will remain at the winning team’s location until next year’s games, when the district title will be up for grabs again and the plaque at risk of being carried off by a new champion.

“The plaque will passed to the winning centers each year. So it’s going to be something annual, not just a one-time thing,” Whittaker said.

In the meantime, “Brain Games Boot Camp” will continue through Friday at the Johnson City Seniors Center, where more than a dozen seniors, or enough for at least four three-member teams, are preparing for Monday’s run off for the opportunity to represent the center in the district competition.

With several of the boot camp participants vowing they only want to watch, the center’s Program Development Director Kamela Eastlick said the center will field at least three teams and “maybe a few more.”

Either way, there will be plenty of Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy and puzzle game quizzes on their agenda and plenty of “brain food” — nuts, berries and good protein — on their menu until then.

The important thing, Eastlick said, is the pursuit of “healthy aging, nurturing of the brain” and the opportunity to socialize with seniors from other local seniors centers that the district games will allow.

Whittaker said the Brain Games initiative is designed to help keep Tennessee seniors mentally active, to provide them with more opportunity for social interaction and to get some healthy competition going among senior communities throughout the state.

She encouraged any seniors who wish to participate in the games to call her or Terry Sutphin at the First District Area Agency on Aging and Disability at 928-0224 for a reference to the nearest participating seniors center.

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