The Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles for Older Adults
Older adults and retirees often have more time on their hands, and jigsaw puzzles are an enjoyable pastime that can improve the overall quality of life. A fun activity to do solo or with others, doing puzzles provides mental, physical, and social stimulation.
Are Jigsaw Puzzles Good for Your Brain?
Not only do puzzles help your brain by improving problem-solving skills and aiding in memory retention, but they’re also a great stress reliever and mood booster. Working on a puzzle activates the left and right hemispheres of the brain, triggering both creative and linear thinking. A jigsaw puzzle for seniors is an enjoyable way to keep both the mind and body active.
15 Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles for Seniors
Jigsaw puzzles are beneficial for any age group but can be especially useful for older adults. Here are 15 reasons why puzzles for the elderly are advantageous.
1. Memory Retention
When you do a puzzle, it enhances the connection between brain cells and can help create new ones. This aids your brain in memory retention, processing speeds, and mental reasoning. Studies suggest that this brain-training activity can prevent or delay memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer's.
2. Problem-Solving Skills
Jigsaws help hone critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As you do puzzles, it can be a bit of trial and error and will encourage you to work on it from different angles. This, in turn, makes your brain formulate and test multiple solutions, but it also allows you to learn how to change course if unsuccessful the first time around.
3. Fine Motor Skills
Puzzles for elders are a great way to tune fine motor skills as limbs and muscles get stiffer with age. Simply picking up the pieces and moving them around can help improve grip and refine motor skills.
4. Cognitive Function Stimulated
As we briefly mentioned earlier, working on a puzzle activates both hemispheres of the brain. As you do the puzzle, you are triggering your creative thinking skills and linear skills. Because you are stimulating your left and right brain hemispheres, you enhance your cognitive functioning, which has been known to decline with age.
5. Visual and Spatial Reasoning
A jigsaw puzzle requires you to piece together individual pieces to complete one big picture. This process helps increase your visual and spatial awareness and reasoning skills, which are important in everyday life. By envisioning the outcome through many different pieces, you enhance these skills, and the more often you do it, the better it becomes.
6. Stress Reliever
Even though it requires concentration to work on a jigsaw puzzle, they are a relaxing activity that can help relieve stress. Studies have shown jigsaws can decrease anxiety and also help curb PTSD symptoms.
7. Mood Booster
Jigsaw puzzles are a mental workout, sure, but it makes your brain happy. When you work on a puzzle, your brain releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical that helps boost your mood. This, in turn, will also aid in concentration and memory retention.
8. Meditative Activity
As we’ve mentioned, jigsaws are a great stress-relieving activity. They’re also meditative. Despite the need to concentrate, working on a jigsaw puzzle requires you to focus on only one task and can send your brain into a zen state, similar to one you would experience during meditation.
9. Improve Sleep Quality
Studies have found that jigsaw puzzles can help relieve insomnia. Many may use the TV or their phones to fall asleep, but that can actually enhance the inability to sleep. Puzzles are a screen-free activity that can help improve sleep patterns and the quality of sleep.
10. Conversation Starter
As we get older, social circles can alter. Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to connect with others and stimulate conversation. Whether it’s interacting with new people, or bringing the family together, a jigsaw puzzle is a great way to include multiple people and engage in conversation.
11. Collaboration and Teamwork
Jigsaw puzzles are a fantastic solo activity, but they’re great to do with others, too. Working with others to see the big picture, and piece together the smaller details, will require teamwork and collaboration–a useful skill no matter age.
12. Attention to Detail
Working with a jigsaw puzzle will require paying attention to intricate details and honing in on specific colors and patterns. Being able to scrutinize and observe minute details will enhance other areas of your life.
13. Hand-Eye Coordination
A jigsaw puzzle is a great tool to help enhance hand-eye coordination. Fitting puzzle pieces together and placing them where they belong helps the puzzlers better understand the connection between their eyes and hands.
For a senior, puzzles provide an objective and a task to focus on. Puzzles allow you to see your progress in real-time and help establish perseverance in a fun and engaging way.
We mentioned earlier that working on a jigsaw puzzle makes your brain release dopamine. The more time you spend on a puzzle, the more excited and satisfied you feel. Jigsaws are an activity that can provide motivation and provide a sense of victory, especially when you slide the last piece into place.
Jigsaw puzzles have many health benefits for older adults mentally, physically, and socially. They are a great way to engage the brain in a myriad of ways, encourage communication and collaboration, and are a fantastic way to relieve stress. Perhaps most importantly–they’re fun!