How Are Puzzles Beneficial For Seniors With Dementia
By Rob Buck 9 am on March 28, 2019
Puzzles are one of many activities recommended for older adults to exercise the brain and maintain cognitive health. However, few realize the pastime of doing puzzles is also a useful tool for seniors living with dementia. Puzzles provide several benefits for cognitively impaired older adults.
Brain Games To Prevent Dementia
Board games, video games, card games and puzzles. Chances are, youve owned one or the other, and thats a good thing. Playing games can encourage socialization, improve concentration and increase knowledge. Better yet, it has been shown to pump up your memory, fighting the onset and progression of dementia and even Alzheimers disease. With more than 28 million baby boomers expected to develop Alzheimers between now and 2050, making a plan for family game nights could be a smart move.
Just like the muscles in your body, the brain will atrophy waste away if not exercised regularly. The brain requires a solid workout routine to grow strong nerve tissues for support. You dont have to be in school or on the job to do it. Growing and stretching the brain can be done at every stage of life, wherever you are.
The brain also needs the chemical dopamine to promote learning and memory. Dopamine production has been shown to increase in the brain when a person solves puzzles. Challenging and stretching the brain regularly pushes the mind to grow and develop in new directions for better brain health.
Now that you know how to help, heres how to do it. Pick the platform thats right for you or your loved one, and make it a habit to play the game.
Can Brain Puzzles Help Keep Dementia At Bay
The brain is the most complex and truly amazing organ in the body. If we dont exercise our muscles as we age, we lose muscle tone. Likewise, if we dont exercise our mind, the mind becomes weaker as well. Recently, there has been considerable interest in researching the role that mental exercise may play in reducing the risk of developing dementia and the benefits it offers to people who have it.
January is International Brain Teaser Month. Recent findings suggest that brain training may help to improve various aspects of memory in older people. Keeping the brain active may be beneficial in helping to delay the onset and treat age-related diseases like dementia. A study by Kings College in London showed that healthy 60-year olds who took part in a six-month online brain training programme had higher scores on measures of verbal learning and reasoning compared to people who did not undertake the training. Other research suggests that brain training may also help to slow down the development of Alzheimers disease in people who are beginning to develop memory problems. Numerous studies have also suggested that engaging in more mentally stimulating activities throughout life has been proven to be associated with better cognitive function.
Some of the types of brain teasers that you can enjoy throughout International Brain Teaser Month and the rest of the year include:
Word Search puzzles
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Crosswords Are A Great Way To Relax And Unwind
In this extremely competitive and aggressive world, our daily lives are filled with personal and professional issues and difficulties. Everyone is stressed, tensed, and strained to their maximum point. Relaxation is crucial for maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle.
But how do you relax and take care of your overworked body? Playing crossword not only lets you unwind your body but also relaxes your mind. Filled with intrigues and enticement, the world of crosswords will force you to let go of all your worries.
The brainstorming session to solve the problems, identify the right clue, and utilize it to get the answer is a great stress booster. You can easily get lost in the beautiful world of crosswords and forget about all your real-life problems.
Some websites even avail crossword games where you can earn real money. What can be more relaxing than sitting back, playing crossword puzzle games, and earning money! It will do wonders for your mental health.
Our Moments Couples: Conversation Starters For Great Relationships
Its also important to keep your emotional intelligence sharp by engaging in conversations where you evoke and attune to the emotions of others. Take time to have a meaningful conversation with a loved one and improve your emotional intelligence by observing and asking how they feel during the conversation, says Schewitz.
This card pack is filled with stimulating questions like Whats something that youll never try again? or What have you lost since childhood that youd like to regain?
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Brain Teaser Riddles Can Help Improve Cognitive Function
The brain is neuroplastic, meaning it has the ability to shift and change over time. Many people believe our brains age as we do, growing less powerful, less capable, less competent over time.
What most dont realize, however, is that you have the ability to manipulate your brain the way a sculptor molds clay.
The brain is susceptible to all we expose it topeople, music, workeven the physical environments we traverse on a day to day basis. Everything we partake in has the potential to subtly shift the wiring of our brain.
The question is: how do we wire our brains for the better?
Thats where brain puzzles and teasers come in. We can enhance our mental fitness by exposing the brain to puzzles that challenge our normal modes of thinking.
Ever heard of the phrase use it or lose it? Thats quite literally true when it comes to the way our brains age. When we dont actively seek novel experiences that expose our minds to all sorts of new and challenging stimuli, our neuroreceptors die off from disuse.
Brain teasers can help keep the mind stimulated by encouraging it to think and act in new and novel ways. Lateral thinking keeps us feeling fresh, creative, on our toes, so to speak, when tackling new problems. And we arent often given the opportunity to exercise lateral thinking in our day to day lives.Brain games, teasers, and brain riddles offer that opportunity.
A Memory Circle Can Improve Short And Long
This game requires a few seniors to participate, but its really one of the best ways to work on improving memory. Get everyone sitting in a circle, then have them each go around and recount one fond story or activity from their childhood. After everyone has shared their memory, the circle goes around again. But this time, everyone has to retell the story of someone elses memory. This works especially well at an assisted living facility.
This is a great game because not only does it encourage socializing and sharing, but it also calls upon short and long-term recollection. Activating multiple sections of the brain helps seniors improve their overall memory. In this way, a memory circle can improve a seniors ability to recall distant information and complete daily tasks.
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Promotes Better Overall Health
There isnt a whole lot of physical activity that goes into putting a puzzle together. But that doesnt mean there arent physical health benefits that come with doing puzzles.
When a person sits and does a puzzle, it often slows their heart rate down significantly and brings their breathing down as well. Additionally, it can reduce their blood pressure, which is something thats essential for Alzheimers disease patients.
All of this will work wonders for a persons entire body. Theyll feel better when they do puzzles on a regular basis.
Start A Game Group At Minneapolis Cherrywood Pointe
Participating in a game is more fun with other people, and at the Cherrywood Pointe locations in Minneapolis and the surrounding areas, there is a large pool of competition to take on. If you have a loved one in Minneapolis who is facing challenges with dementia, its important to provide them with a living environment that keeps their mind active. Communicate to them in a way your loved one will understand, and encourage them to show their competitive side! Not only is life at Cherrywood Pointe easier for those with dementia, but it also provides new opportunities for mental stimulation.Get in touch with our Minneapolis-based team to learn more about life at Cherrywood Pointe keeps our residents engaged every day.
Jigsaw Puzzles Can Help Your Problem Solving Skills
This is one we want you to take with a grain of salt. While the science behind left-brain and right-brain is always up for debate, some suggest that puzzles help stimulate both sides of the brain. This means when youre putting a puzzle together youre engaging both your creative and logical side, which improves your problem solving skills! So, whether youre using a puzzle to improve your logic skills or you need a creative outlet, a puzzle is perfect for you!
What Are The Claims About Brain Training And Reducing Dementia Risk
Many people engage in brain training in the hope that keeping their brains active will maintain or improve their cognitive abilities as they get older.
The idea of brain training is based on the concept of ‘use it or lose it’. The popular theory goes that the more you regularly challenge your brain the less likely you are to experience cognitive impairment or dementia in your later years.
The theory is based on an observation made by some that people who have complex jobs or who regularly participate in activities such as crosswords, puzzles or learning new hobbies throughout life appear to have lower rates of dementia.
Computer-based brain training games have been developed that challenge brain functions such as memory, problem solving and reasoning, abilities that can slow down or worsen with age.
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What Should You Think About When Picking Dementia Jigsaws
The number of pieces in a jigsawWhen it comes to providing a jigsaw for someone with dementia, its important to consider what stage theyre at in the dementia journey and how that might impact on their ability to complete it.
For example, someone in the very early stages may still be able to complete a 100 or 200 piece jigsaw with minimal difficulty. But if youre in the mid stages, it becomes very difficult as cognitive decline means complicated puzzles are just too much for someone with dementia.
Thats where jigsaws for dementia can be very useful. Theyre designed to contain less pieces typically between 12 and 35 pieces so theyre simpler to complete, but with images that are suitable for an adult, and which may help to stimulate reminiscence and conversation.
Personalised jigsaw puzzlesAnother option is personalised jigsaws. These are dementia-specific jigsaws which let you use an image that is personal to you or the person with dementia, such as a family photo, favourite pet or view of their home. The benefit of of this is that by adding a personal touch into the puzzle, it creates an even greater connection with the person with dementia, helping to boost enjoyment and contentment. Theyre extremely useful for encouraging conversation and reminiscence.
To see the full range of jigsaw puzzles available on Unforgettable, click here.
How Jigsaws Can Help With Dementia
To some of us the jigsaw is an old childhood friend which kept us occupied for hours on rainy days or long journeys.
Jigsaws however are being credited with a far greater therapeutic effect than simply relieving boredom as there is increasing evidence that they can be a major contributory factor in delaying or even reversing the effects of dementia.
Whilst we are not suggesting the jigsaw has become a magical cure-all for those affected by Alzheimers, there are a number of ways in which doing jigsaw puzzles can clearly benefit sufferers. We have outlined below just a few of these benefits.
Doing jigsaw puzzles can help improve cognitive function.
Researchers have found that sufferers who worked on a puzzle just a couple of times a week for around three-quarters of an hour at a time displayed either improved memory capacity and recollection or a marked reduction or slowing of overall decline. Building puzzles actually stimulates both sides of the brain with the left side providing logic and order whilst the right side brings creativity and intuition, all of which are applied in the process of putting together a jigsaw. Jigsaws are a popular learning tool to help children develop their ability to recognise shapes and colours, to apply elementary reasoning and introduce concepts such as the process of elimination and dementia sufferers can similarly benefit from practicing these skills.
It improves visual perception.
It offers increased social interaction.
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See If Crossword Puzzles Sudoku And Brain Training Websites Are Worth The Hype
Posted March 4, 2014
A recent column by New York Times blogger Nick Bilton discusses the addictive quality of video games and how we might use them to make our minds stronger, faster and healthier.
According to Biltons piece, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco are using neuroimaging techniques to peer into gamers heads, collecting data to help make video games that change as you play, getting easier or harder, depending on your performance. The goal is eventually to develop games that rewire our brains to improve and cognitive function.
But with all the buzz about brain gamessuch as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and even brain training websitesit begs the question: Can brain games be beneficial to brain health?
As a cognitive , this is a question I get asked a lot. And the answer is yes and no.
While the games are fun and engaging, there is insufficient scientific evidence to suggest brain training as it exists now can significantly improve an individuals higher-order cognitive ability.
If you like brain games there is no harm in doing them, but chances are you are better off giving your brain some downtime and gearing up for deeper level thinking. I recommend taking practical steps to build and maintain robust brain health. The first simple step is to stop habits that work against healthy frontal lobe function.
Copyright Sandra Bond Chapman
Exercise Puzzles And Alzheimer’s Signs In Brain
WEDNESDAY, June 10, 2015 — Physical and mental activity don’t appear to prevent the brain from developing the telltale beta-amyloid deposits that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study suggests.
“While it was hoped that early, or current, engagement in these sorts of activity would be protective against developing Alzheimer’s, our findings suggest that, while beneficial for overall mental health, the activity does not seem to prevent amyloid buildup,” said lead researcher Dr. Keith Johnson. He is co-director of the Neuroimaging Core at the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
The report was published June 10 online in the journal Neurology.
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes progressive problems in thinking and memory. The exact cause of the disease remains elusive, but scientists do know that people with Alzheimer’s have what’s known as plaques and tangles in their brains. The plaques form when beta-amyloid protein deposits clump together.
Physical activities — such as bike riding, dancing, walking and gardening — and mentally stimulating activities — such as crossword puzzles and reading — have been shown in other research to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to the study authors.
People in the study had PET and MRI scans so researchers could gauge the amount of beta-amyloid deposits in their brains.
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Can Brain Training Games Improve Brain Health
Brain training games or computerized cognitive training consisting of programs of games designed specifically to exercise memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem-solving have become increasingly popular in recent years.
In 2018, according to the market research firm SharpBrains, people spent $1.9 billion on digital brain health and neurotechnology apps. Makers of these popular brain-training games claim that they can help ward off cognitive decline by keeping your brain sharp.
Scientists remain skeptical about how effective these brain-training games really are in improving brain health.
Few studies can show that getting better at a brain game transfers to everyday activities of daily living, says Kimberly D. Mueller, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
That said, just like playing regular games, it is a vehicle for learning something new or challenging your brain, says Dr. Mueller. Based on what we know about how the brain works, learning new things with repeated practice, or challenging the brain in new ways, can strengthen connections between the neurons, or brain cells, adds Mueller.
Jigsaw Puzzles Improve Cognitive Skills
The image of a senior working on a jigsaw puzzle is a little clichéd, but its still one of the best brain games for them. Why? First, it improves concentration. For many people , once they start a puzzle, its hard to stop until its finished. Since many seniors experience bouts of forgetfulness, keeping them focused on one task gives that part of their brains some exercise.
Beyond that, jigsaw puzzles have been found to improve hand-eye coordination, memory, and critical thinking. These are some of the key skills for daily life, and sadly, the skills that many seniors lose as they age. Fortunately, using jigsaw puzzles can slow down mental decline and give seniors extra years of mental activity.
Similar to word searches, though, you can and should make sure that the puzzle fits your seniors cognitive abilities. This could mean scaling up the difficulty by using a larger puzzle with smaller pieces or reversing that for an easier puzzle. Additionally, get multiple seniors together to work on a jigsaw puzzle to help them build meaningful relationships with people their age.
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