If you are getting on in years, like me, then you know it’s pretty much true what they say, “The memory is the first to go”. It may be hard to understand if you haven’t gotten to that point in life yet, but it’s really frustrating not to be able to remember the simplest of things. That’s why it’s so great to know that there are ways to combat memory loss, such as jigsaw puzzles for seniors.
Any puzzle is helpful for your brain, but jigsaw puzzles are especially helpful because when you work them your WHOLE brain is working together. That means your whole brain is getting a workout… which will make it stronger and sharper. That leads to other every-day tasks becoming easier to do as well.
- Remembering names
- Writing out a grocery list
- Working the remote, or a computer
- Following a recipe
It’s been scientifically proven that working puzzles can not only delay memory loss, but also, can actually cause your memory to improve. This happens because of the neurotransmitters that make connections between your brain cells. The more often you work puzzles, the more connections are formed, and the stronger those connections get. It’s also been proven that the earlier you start, the more beneficial that is for your memory.
Stave Off Alzheimer’s/Dementia
Sadly, there is no cure for either Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. I think it’s concerning that both of these conditions affect a growing number of people, world-wide, every day. Since working puzzles has been shown to slow down the effects of both of these diseases, it makes perfect sense to fight back against them and make your brain as strong as possible… and then keep it strong!
Your brain controls your body, so it follows that the healthier your brain is, the healthier your body is as well. When you are working a jigsaw puzzle, it can actually put you into a “meditative state” where you are calm and relaxed. It’s a wonderful way to relieve anxiety, or just have a nice easy-going day or evening.
The older we get, the more we appreciate calm and peacefulness, and working puzzles can provide just that. All-in-all, you will feel refreshed and renewed, and have a lot of fun too!
Natural Chemical Reward
Once you complete your puzzle, your brain will actually reward you with the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a natural “feel-good” chemical produced in your brain. What triggers its production is pretty much anything that makes you happy.
It doesn’t have to be anything major. Just a simple thing, like finding where a certain puzzle piece goes, can trigger it. So, the more puzzles you work, and especially the more puzzles you finish, the more of these natural chemicals are created and released, which keeps you feeling extra good and healthy.
Jigsaw puzzles make your brain work-out fun, and they are a great way to have an enjoyable time with a friend. They can also help you make new friends.
For some seniors, meeting new people can be difficult, as they may feel insecure, or timid. Puzzles are wonderful ice-breakers. Sit down and start working one in a common room, and before you know it, someone will be peeking over your shoulder, or sit down opposite, and start working the puzzle with you!
Choosing a Puzzle for Seniors
Just as there is a variety of older people, there is a great variety of puzzles as well. Not every puzzle is right for every person, so you just have to figure out what type you think is best and try it out. Usually, for an adult, a 500-piece puzzle is in the medium range and is fairly easy to complete, while still providing enough of a challenge to stay interesting.
For someone who is not used to working jigsaw puzzles, it might be best to start with a puzzle with less pieces, such as a 200-piece or 300-piece. If someone is very familiar with jigsaws, though, then they might prefer a more challenging puzzle with 1,000-pieces. Regardless of what skill level someone starts on though, they can always increase the challenge later on.
A nice scene is important too. Some seniors might enjoy a puzzle with their favorite flowers in it, or their favorite trees, or birds. You can find all kinds of pictures in jigsaw puzzles, AND, you can even have a custom puzzle created out of the picture of your choosing. You could have a puzzle made from a family photo, or even a photo of a family pet!
So, when choosing a puzzle, remember these guidelines:
- Not too challenging, but challenging enough
- A nice scene/image
- Set puzzle up in an area with good lighting
- A light background, such as a white tablecloth, might be helpful for making the pieces easier to see.
Once you have your puzzle, or puzzles (I mean really, is just ONE ever enough?), go start improving your brain health, your memory, your friendships, your social life, and more. I know that you will find life even more enjoyable from just this simple activity and I want to wish everyone Happy Puzzling!