Are Puzzles Good For Dementia Patients?

senior citizens with alzheimers and dementia assembling a jigsaw puzzle

Jigsaw puzzles are ideal for patients with Dementia and Alzheimers.  While puzzles are therapeutic, they also provide exercise in memory and are said to improve brain functions, especially short-term memory.

In any stage of Dementia or Alzheimer's, puzzles are said to ease some of the symptoms and provide stimulating comfort to the patients, as well as provide a sense of control.  Puzzles, especially custom photo puzzles, can reawaken memories in patients and improve mental speed and thought processes.  Further, puzzles are thought to decrease mental decline and cognitive functioning.  But mental processes are not the only way that puzzles help Dementia and Alzheimer's patients.

Jigsaw Puzzles help to stimulate the brain and also provide a social activity that can help connect the patient to caregivers and loved ones while helping to create a positive emotional connection.  Many dementia patients lose interest in activities easily and jigsaw puzzles can help stabilize this decline.  After all, who can pass a puzzle in the works and not try to help?

Some ways that puzzles help dementia patients include:

  • Improving interactions with others
  • Calming activity
  • Mental stimulation on both sides of the brain
  • Provide a feeling of accomplishment
  • Help us feel good with a release of dopamine upon finding a piece.
  • Lower blood pressure and help meditate.

How to choose the correct puzzle for an Alzheimer and Dementia Patient.

Not all puzzles are equal and not all patients are in the same category when it comes to selecting the proper puzzle to use.  Here are some considerations to use when selecting a puzzle for your loved one with Dementia.

  • Choose a puzzle that will evoke memories.  Custom photo puzzles are perfect for patients as they may evoke memories of self and loved ones in the process.  Personalized puzzles are perfect for this. 
  • Set up a station where the puzzle will be assembled that provides proper lighting and is a place that won't be used for other activities often.  
  • Place a white tablecloth over the table.  This will help add contrast to the area for those with vision difficulties.  
  • Choose the piece count wisely.  Stay away from puzzles that are children's puzzles that are too easy to complete or do not challenge the mind.  Choose a puzzle where the goal is to challenge while being possible to assemble.  Large puzzle pieces are perfect for this.

In closing, choosing an engaging activity that involves the use of jigsaw puzzles is fun and therapeutic.  Coming up with activities isn't always easy and using Jigsaw Puzzles can provide a great therapy session for those who have Alzheimers or Dementia.