The benefits of jigsaw puzzles for people with dementia

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When we’re young children we’re often given jigsaw puzzles as a way of stimulating our brains, improving our hand eye coordination and our thinking and memory skills. As we grow older we can still improve these skills or keep them ticking over by doing jigsaw puzzles, which helps reduce the risk of dementia, but jigsaw puzzles can also be beneficial for people who already have the condition.

Research has shown that mentally challenging activities such as doing a jigsaw puzzle stimulates thinking and memory, which increases feelings of well-being, helps improve communication and interaction.

For someone with dementia, completing a jigsaw puzzle can give them the ‘feel-good’ effect, which is the production of dopamine in the brain, leaving them feeling happy and that they’ve enjoyed their time completing the puzzle.

Doing a jigsaw puzzle works both sides of the brain simultaneously and allows it to move from the Beta state (the wakeful mind) into the Alpha state, which is the same state experienced when dreaming. This means doing it can have a meditative and therapeutic effect on the brain, helping to keep someone with dementia calm and restful. It can help reduce blood pressure and lower the person’s breathing rate too.

There are jigsaw puzzles especially designed for people with dementia, which contain less pieces, so they’re easier to complete and also feature images to stimulate reminiscence.