As adults get older, their brains shrink, and this can cause cognitive changes like difficulty focusing, memory problems, and issues with multitasking. However, there are ways seniors can stimulate their brains to keep them functioning at their best. One of these ways is for caregivers to offer puzzles for seniors, such as jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, or sudoku puzzles.
Liberty Resources Home Choices is a home care agency serving seniors and people with disabilities in the Philadelphia metro area and eastern Pennsylvania with home care services like hourly care and lifestyle support. Here, we share some information about the benefits of caregivers doing puzzles with the people they help.
If you’re a caregiver to a senior, you should know that working on puzzles with them can help improve their memory. Jigsaw puzzles exercise the part of the brain where memories are stored because you have to remember different shapes, colors, and pieces. Putting together pieces of a puzzle is a way to use that area of the brain and strengthen short-term memory. Strengthening short-term memory is especially important for aging adults because it declines as they get older.
Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills
Since puzzles are a problem to solve, it makes sense that doing puzzles frequently will result in enhanced problem-solving skills. When doing a sudoku, a crossword, a jigsaw puzzle, or another type of puzzle, you have to work and rework the puzzle until you reach the solution.
According to a study done by the University of Exeter and King’s College London, older adults who do number and word puzzles have better brain function than those who don’t. They perform better on reasoning, attention, and memory tasks. The study also showed that seniors who often complete crosswords and other word-based puzzles have a brain function equivalent to that of a person ten years younger.
Whether a senior has always liked doing puzzles or is just starting to do them at an older age, successfully finishing a puzzle can provide a sense of satisfaction and an increase in dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that regulates mood, and it’s released when people experience pleasure. Whenever a person works on a puzzle and correctly places a piece or fills in a word, their brain releases dopamine, and their mood is improved. As they experience mood improvement when doing puzzles, seniors will be more likely to want to continue doing them.
Delay in Dementia Symptoms
Dementia is a disease that often affects seniors, but keeping your brain active and stimulated can delay its symptoms. Doing puzzles is a great way to stimulate the brain and keep it engaged. A study published in July 2023 by JAMA states that the more frequently adults participated in active mental activities like playing games, cards, or doing crosswords or other types of puzzles, the greater the reduction in dementia risk. If you’re a caregiver for a senior at risk for dementia, doing puzzles with them can help to decrease that risk.
Learn More About Puzzles for Seniors
Being a caregiver for a senior or person with disabilities can be challenging at times but is also very rewarding. At Liberty Resources Home Choices, our caregivers are dedicated to assisting and providing care for individuals who can no longer help themselves. Whether a person with disabilities needs personal care or a senior needs lifestyle support, our caregivers are here to help in the Philadelphia metro area and beyond. Contact us today to learn more.