The brain is the most important part of the body which is responsible for controlling all of your body’s functions and helping you interact with the world around you. By maintaining a healthy brain, your mind will stay clear and active allowing you to live a long, fulfilling life.
Since brain health is about keeping your mind active, exercising it is just as important as staying physically active in older age. Therefore, in order to ensure that the brain works its best, people, especially the elderly, need to challenge the mind every day. One way of doing this is to play brain training games and activities that are fun and effective.
Jigsaw puzzles are usually the first brain training game that comes to mind. Not only are they a great way to have fun, but they have proven to be very beneficial in stimulating the mind. While they are used for enhancing early child development, jigsaw puzzles can also help older people challenge their minds and maintain their brain health. So if you want to learn more about the ways jigsaw puzzles for adults can boost seniors’ brain health, keep reading.
Improves memory loss
As you grow older, you go through some physiological changes that can result in decreased brain functions you may have taken for granted. One of these changes is taking longer to learn and recall information. Although being forgetful at an older age may be frustrating to some, most of the time it isn’t a cause for concern.
This is where jigsaw puzzles come in handy and help you improve your short-term memory. By solving a puzzle, you are reinforcing the connections between your brain cells while forming new ones at the same time which helps you improve your mental speed. Memory is used for remembering the shapes, sizes and pieces of the puzzle and visualizing where they fit in.
Improves concentration skills
Unfortunately, having a decreased activity in the brain areas that enable concentration is very common in elderly people. As people age, it is much easier to get distracted and not pay attention to anything that is happening around them. That is why solving jigsaw puzzles can help improve people’s attention span as well as their visual-spatial reasoning.
When you are solving a puzzle, both sides of the brain are activated. The left side of the brain is more focused on logic, while the right side of the brain is more creative and intuitive. You look for individual pieces of the puzzle, explore the differences in each piece in terms of their color or shapes and try to figure out where they fit in the puzzle.
When people do something successfully, a mood-enhancing substance called dopamine is released. This substance is in fact a “happy” neurotransmitter that is responsible for controlling the mood as well as learning, memory, concentration and motivation.
So, every time you put a puzzle piece in the right place, you are experiencing what is known as the “Aha!” moment. In such a case, dopamine sends a signal to the brain about emotion, memory processes and levels of alertness which results in sudden excitement and even relief. In addition to this, it is believed that this neurotransmitter is linked to curiosity and willingness to learn. Therefore, by placing a piece in the right place, you are motivated to do the rest of the puzzle.
Serves as meditation
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that jigsaw puzzles can provide stress relief. They keep the mind active and allow the brain to relax. In fact, when you are doing a puzzle, you are exercising both hemispheres and taking your brain from a Beta state or being awake to an Alpha state or being relaxed. So, while reducing stress, this transition increases your self-confidence and productivity at the same time.
Moreover, while you are trying to fit the pieces in the right place, you are focusing on a single task which creates a sense of peace and tranquility. This way your stress levels are reduced and your brain’s cognitive function is increased. In addition to the tranquility you are experiencing, your blood pressure and heart rate are also lowered.
Better social skills
It is well known that puzzles are a great way to connect people. They inspire social interaction and communication which is of great importance for older people. Not only that, it encourages cooperation which helps the group finish the puzzle successfully.
While solving a puzzle on your own brings a special kind of personal satisfaction, it is also nice when you can share your success with a peer. This is why adult daycare centers are filled with all kinds of mind games that bring the elderly together. Not only do they work together to reach the same goal, but they also practice their listening skills and accept each other’s suggestions in successfully solving a puzzle.
Prevents development of severe mental health conditions
Symptoms of mental health conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and anxiety can be managed by solving jigsaw puzzles.
For example, seniors who suffer from dementia have a hard time remembering things and engaging in meaningful pastimes that can control their restlessness or stimulate their minds. In such cases, custom photo puzzles come in handy to evoke memories and help stimulate cognitive functioning.
Also, for seniors suffering from anxiety disorders, solving jigsaw puzzles can be very relaxing. Since one of the most common symptoms of anxiety is the presence of stress, people can do puzzles to help them focus on finding the right piece. This will calm them and take their mind off of something that is making them anxious.
Solving jigsaw puzzles is one useful way of keeping your brain as active as you can. They are especially recommended for older adults who need to exercise their brains regularly and maintain cognitive health. While solving it is both interesting and entertaining, it has also proven beneficial for improving memory, daily life skills and overall mental health. So, if you want to boost your brain health, go get yourself a jigsaw puzzle and challenge your mind.