Puzzles are such a great way to stay busy and mentally stimulated, there are lots to choose from, but we are going to focus on jigsaw puzzles. Jigsaws are relatively cheap, easy to get hold of; available from book, charity and stationery shops (plus picking one up from your village or town will help local businesses too) and of course, there are plenty of options to buy online. While puzzles benefit people of all ages, the benefits of jigsaws are especially noticeable for older people.
Studies have shown that doing jigsaw puzzles can improve cognition and visual-spatial reasoning. The act of putting the pieces of a puzzle together requires concentration and improves short-term memory and problem solving. According to Harvard Health Publishing building a healthy cognitive reserve can potentially help reduce the risk of developing dementias like Alzheimer’s disease. Physiotherapists working with older people have noted how the small, precise movements required when doing a jigsaw are beneficial especially when people do not have many opportunities to use their hands in daily activities. And because a jigsaw is so focused it is naturally relaxing to the mind and body and a good way to help stay calm and reduce anxiety.
Jigsaw puzzles are also a great way to reminisce and look back on happy memories either on your own or with a friend or family member. There are such a huge variety of subjects, scenes and landscapes printed onto puzzle pieces. I recently bought a jigsaw for myself that featured characters from the TV shows of my childhood it was great to bring it to life and remember with fondness Mr Ben, Bagpuss, The Adventures of Parsley the Lion and The Wombles! I then passed it on to my brother and sister-in-law who enjoyed putting it together with their children who couldn’t quite believe what we all used to watch when we were young.
We can pick up puzzles that feature our favourite places too, the locations of where we used to visit for days out and the destinations of our family holidays. There are even nostalgia puzzles with scenes of films from years gone by, royal celebrations and comic books. It is also possible to have our own personal images printed onto jigsaw pieces, for example, a family portrait, a much-loved pet or a special memory such as a wedding.
Whether you puzzle alone, share it with family or friends, decide to puzzle in one go or spread it over days and weeks you will benefit in so many ways – give it a go!