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How Does Solving Puzzles Help the Elderly?

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People fear that as they get old, they might lose their mental sharpness. Healthcare institutions believe that our brains tend to lose their efficiency as we grow older. Luckily, there are great ways to reduce this possibility. One of them is by giving your brain a moderate workout through solving puzzles.

Solving puzzles is a life-changer. Aside from it being fun and entertaining, it provides numerous physical, mental, and social health to seniors.

Puzzles provide an excellent way for the elderly to strengthen their brain function, as solving one requires critical and logical thinking skills. Identifying what pieces fit to complete the picture or word helps seniors become more creative in making a decision. Likewise, puzzle-solving is a mental activity that is proven to have innumerable benefits, like improved focus, enhanced cognitive skills, increased intelligence, and many more. It even wards off seniors’ dementia and delays Alzheimer’s disease.

Keep reading to find out the advantages of solving puzzles to seniors.

How Solving Puzzles Benefits the Aging Adults

You might be surprised by the number of benefits that solving puzzles give to seniors. Here are the proven, researched facts that demonstrate the effectiveness of puzzle-solving to older age group:

1. Puzzle-solving makes an excellent exercise for seniors’ brains.

One of the apparent benefits of solving puzzles is that it serves as a workout for seniors’ brains and memory function. Puzzles allow seniors to engage in a situation that would require them to concentrate on solving the problem. It also strengthens the existing connections of their brain cells and increases the production of new ones. These processes hugely improve seniors’ mental speed and thinking process. As soon as brain cells are regenerated, seniors could come up with better decisions. Different puzzles allow seniors to stimulate their cognitive functions that enhance their reasoning and judgment abilities. Since seniors are susceptible to recollection challenges, giving them jigsaw puzzles would help them improve short-term memory. This type of mind game mainly uses one’s recollection of pieces, along with its color and shape, to determine the bigger picture based on the puzzle pieces.

2. Puzzle-solving improves visual-spatial reasoning.

In medical terms, visual-spatial intelligence refers to an individual’s capability to mentally form a picture based on their shapes and colors. Regardless of the activities, we use spatial awareness in our daily lives. For example, packing for items for a trip helps us visualize the proper way to fit them together without having excess baggage. Similar to solving puzzles, seniors need to recognize each piece differently. This process requires one’s inventiveness and logical reasoning on how an item is related to another piece. What’s more, solving puzzles help seniors improve their visual observations. Seniors need to continually scan for a piece that would match a particular shape or color within the puzzle. 

3. Puzzle-solving heightens seniors’ decision-making skills and concentration.

Whatever the type of puzzles seniors play, one thing is for sure. It helps them improve their decision-making capabilities and intelligence quotient. Seniors who love solving puzzles are more likely to have improved research, critical thinking, cognitive ability, and concentration skills. Puzzles are among the exceptional mind games that enhance one’s cognitive function, as solving one helps seniors go beyond recollecting the patterns and gives them advanced reasoning. Another great thing about puzzles is that it allows seniors to concentrate on their platforms. Mind games, like puzzles, requires players to have a great deal of thought during the solving process. Seniors also heighten their analytic skills and patience in finishing the problem. 

4. Puzzle-solving releases dopamine.

One of the most significant benefits of solving problems is that it activates your brain and increases the production of dopamine. The human brain produces neurotransmitters responsible for connecting the brain and the nervous system. Those neurotransmitters are called dopamine, which improves your mood and optimizes your outlook in life. Once seniors become successful in solving their puzzles, their brain increases dopamine levels that enhance their motor skills, positive outlook, focus, and confidence. Furthermore, dopamine levels reinforce comprehension among seniors. It would be easier for them to understand their environment as part of accepting their perspectives in life.

5. Puzzle-solving serves as meditation for seniors.

There’s no doubt that puzzles have a great relationship with meditation. Working on puzzles exercise both hemispheres, allowing the brain to move from a Beta state (normal waking state of consciousness) to an Alpha state (a relaxed conscious state) of mind. This transition puts seniors’ minds in a sort of trance, which decreases stress and anxiety levels and increases the brain’s cognitive function. As both sides of the brain work simultaneously, it keeps the brain active and healthy. 

Putting attention on solving puzzles supports seniors in relaxing their brain cells to consider solutions. To be more specific, a jigsaw or crossword puzzle induces these benefits since seniors need to look at the problem at a higher level. Aside from improved brain function, meditation brings physical and psychological benefits to seniors. It increases blood flow, reduces cortisol levels, and boosts seniors’ immune system. Psychologically speaking, mind puzzles reduce aging adults’ anxiety, improve stress resilience, and bring positive emotions to aging adults.

6. Puzzle-solving improves seniors’ social skills.

Mind games and puzzles are excellent social tools for people, as these games cater to all age groups. Puzzles encourage social interaction and communication, especially when seniors are working on a bigger puzzle. Nothing is more fun than solving puzzles with a little help from your peers. Adult daycare centers provide mind games to aging adults where they can collaborate with other seniors. In this session, seniors improve their listening skills by attending to what others are suggesting. Mind games also help the elderly to acquire good sportsmanship. 

Most puzzles are played solo. Yet, solving puzzles and finishing them on your own provides endless opportunities to improve brain function and analytic skills. As mentioned above, completing puzzles without the help of other people gain seniors’ a feeling of satisfaction. The sense of completeness allows the brain to release dopamine levels that serve as a reward system for seniors. Since puzzles are ideal mind activities for all ages, you can train your aging parents at home too!

7. Puzzle-solving prevents the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Seniors who love solving puzzles have an increased cognitive function compared to those who are not. Researchers suggest that keeping your brain active helps ward-off the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As WebMD addressed, training seniors’ brains through mind games delay memory loss and mental problems. A study supports this idea by involving 2,800 seniors who underwent over a month of ten-hour long brain-training sessions. The study focused on seniors’ ability to memorize, reason out, and process information. Interestingly, the researchers observed that participating seniors thave improved those abilities that lasted at least five years!

Reap the Benefits of Puzzle-Solving Today!

By now, you’ve understood the health benefits of solving puzzles to seniors. Puzzles are accessible in the market. You can buy one personally or order online conveniently. You can also download mind games on your phone as an added opportunity to enhance your senior loved one’s mind.

If you want to reap the physical, mental, and social benefits of puzzle-solving, you may also try Oasis Adult Day Center. We offer programs that cater to seniors’ health. We implement jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles as part of our social activities.

Are you interested in our event? Visit us today! We are located at 1930 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, New York. For more information on how to schedule a session with us, give us a call at (718) 682-7843. You can also email us at contact@oasisdaycenter.com.

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In the wake of the Corona Virus outbreak, we have closed our center to the seniors of our community to protect them from this dangerous virus. However we have now created a dedicated Facebook group for seniors in Brooklyn and are preparing digital events so that you can stay connected with your community!

Even though to stay safe we should practice social isolation, it does not mean we have to do it alone!
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