- 1 How Puzzles are Helpful for Patients with Dementia
- 2 Choosing the Ideal Puzzle for a Dementia Patient
- 3 Easy puzzle activities for the Elderly with Dementia
- 4 Conclusion
Puzzles are great tests of ingenuity and knowledge. They have been shown to be particularly useful, across all stages, in the elderly diagnosed with dementia – a syndrome characterized by memory deterioration, loss of language, thinking ability, and problem-solving skills enough to interfere with daily functioning.
Dementia results from the aging of the brain. As such, it is a particularly prevalent syndrome in the elderly and often declines with advancing age. While it is not preventable, the process can be slowed down by keeping the brain active
How Puzzles are Helpful for Patients with Dementia
No matter the stage of dementia, puzzle activities can prevent the condition from worsening, give the elderly some sense of satisfaction and control, and also provide comfort.
Allowing the elderly diagnosed with dementia to play puzzle games can produce the following results;
Stimulate continuous brain activity
Aid information retention by improving brain functioning (particularly in relation to short term memory)
Dopamine release creates a feeling of pleasure and reward and leads to increased motivation and enthusiasm.
Improve interaction with other people around them.
Choosing the Ideal Puzzle for a Dementia Patient
Depending on the stage of dementia, not every puzzle may be ideal for every elderly patient diagnosed with dementia.
Here are some guiding principles when you need to select the best puzzle.
Go for a puzzle that brings back memories. Custom made puzzles, with pictures of loved ones may be used here.
Set up a separate station for puzzle activities that will allow for maximum concentration and minimal disturbance, and which is well lit. Should the elderly patient with dementia get exhausted while the activity is ongoing, being able to continue from where he stops after taking some rest can help keep such and one motivated.
Choose puzzle activities that are fun and not too frustrating. Go for games that are challenging but not impossible to complete.
Start gradually. Aim to begin with simpler puzzles, and then to move on to more complex ones when completing the simpler puzzle has become easier ( a good way to know this is to keep a record of how long it takes to complete the puzzle. The shorter the time, the easier it is)
Easy puzzle activities for the Elderly with Dementia
To help you choose the most ideal puzzle for your elderly, we have curated and compiled a list of the five easiest puzzle activities
Crossword and word search puzzle:
Both traditional puzzle types test your knowledge and recall ability.
It comes in varying levels of difficulties and can be played both traditionally (i.e. on paper) or on a digital device.
Jigsaw puzzles :
Playing jigsaw puzzles activates both sides of the brain and can be played and enjoyed at any time without prior planning.
Word Search Games:
These games help the elderly to retain their language skills and sometimes, even encourage further learning.
Can be played on a wide variety of topics of interest. It is a great way to stimulate the mind and draw forth some laughter, especially when played with others.
It can also be played in the form of competition increasing the feeling of reward for winning.
This kind forces you to think outside the box and use the cues provided to come up with correct answers.
They encourage deep reasoning and lateral thinking thus getting dormant neural pathways firing.
It is absolutely essential to keep the mind active in old age and puzzle activities provide a fun way to do that. A 2017 article by Forbes suggests that spending as little as five minutes daily on a puzzle can result in a significant increase in mental well being. Engaging in puzzle activities is certainly a good route to ply. Done alongside the use of assisted living software, the elderly with dementia retain independence as much as possible and maintain functionality and memory.