Studies suggest that the simple act of doing jigsaw puzzles on a regular basis can really help stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This highly enjoyable hobby has been proved to stimulate the brain in such a way that it can even help gain a longer life span, especially when combined with regular physical activity.
Jigsaw puzzles really are the complete package when it comes to exercising the brain as it stimulates both the left side, which is concerned with logic and sequence, and the right, which serves for creative, intuitive and emotive thought. When piecing the parts together, the brain is working continuously in an intensive way which helps to exercise the brain cells and increase their efficiency.
21 Different Skills Needed
The act of problem solving involves a huge range of skills, some of which are listed below:
- Analysis – working out how pieces fit back together
- Attention to detail – identifying small detail in the pieces
- Categorising – arranging pieces into similar colours that go together
- Collaboration – working with another person to achieve the result
- Comparison – identifying which pieces will/won’t fit into the same space
- Comprehension – understanding the whole picture while working on a section
- Concentration – focusing on the shapes/sizes etc
- Creativity – finding different ways to assess if the piece is correct
- Decision Making – deciding how you will go about completing the jigsaw
- Eye/hand Coordination – using fine motor control to manipulate the pieces
- Flexibility – the ability to switch to different areas when needed
- Goal-setting – allowing a certain amount of time to complete the task
- Memory Retention – remembering where a piece won’t fit
- Patience – keeping focused for long periods without giving up
- Prioritising – deciding which area to do first
- Problem-solving – finding answers to each area of difficulty
- Reasoning – justifying your choices
- Reviewing – taking stock of progress at various stages
- Self-reflection – assessing your own performance and learning from it
- Social Interaction – working and conversing with others regarding the task
- Spatial Orientation – working out how the shapes fill the spaces
Most of these skills can be affected with the onset of a dementia such as Alzheimer’s, which can affect these cognitive skills in a detrimental way. By regularly stimulating the brain with games and puzzle like jigsaws, it enables the brain to keep its neurotransmitters healthy and slow down the ageing processes.
‘Happy’ Chemical Released
While busily working on these jigsaws, the brain releases a chemical knows as dopamine which is activated when we satisfactorily fit the correct piece and especially when we finish the completed picture. Dopamine release gives us a pleasurable feeling and keeps our concentration levels high. This can be given an extra boost by completing a challenging puzzle as part of a group activity – this creates a higher sense of enjoyment with the added bonus of completing the jigsaw quicker, thus enjoying that rush of dopamine sooner!
Jigsaws for All Abilities
Older people can often have stiffness in their fingers due to arthritis and other ailments that affect their dexterity, making it difficult to handle and manipulate small jigsaw pieces. We at Activities to Share have just the answer; adult-appropriate images on large-piece jigsaws. These range from super-easy 9 piece sets , through to 250 pieces – still with larger-than-average pieces in a wide range of designs.
To view our full range – click here to go to our website, or find us on facebook