Jigsaw puzzles are both a science and art itself.
Art because it can be used to express someone’s thoughts and idea by printing on it and science because it is used to train the brains of the ones whose playing it.
With that, let’s see how can our favorite pastime game could help with people with dementia.
Do jigsaw puzzles help prevent dementia?
If someone has dementia (a progressive decline of cognitive function), playing jigsaw puzzles could buy them some time to prolong its effect by cognitive training.
But how would that be possible?
Let’s find out as I discuss it with you below.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a collective term of a chronic progressive decline of brain activity because of an underlying brain disorder. One brain disorder that can be associated with it is Alzheimer’s disease.
When we watch some dramatic movies, where the protagonist is diagnosed with declining mental capabilities, most of the time is it due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
These two chronic progressive declines of brain activity are almost always interchanged in some ways. So, let’s differentiate these first from one another to make the distinction.
Dementia is a form of a rapid decline of brain function because of a specific illness in the brain, while Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of degenerating brain disorder leading to memory loss, and cognitive decline.
Having said that, the specific brain disorder itself is called as Alzheimer’s disease while the over-all signs and symptoms of declining brain activity because of a certain brain condition or disorder is called as dementia.
Now, let’s focus more on dementia itself.
Since dementia is characterized by gradual deterioration of brain function, this disorder can’t be cured.
You see, brain cells are the most sensitive type of cells we have in our bodies. So, once these cells are damaged or injured for whatever reason there may be, they can’t be repaired, changed, or healed. It will be a permanent irreversible injury.
For patients with dementia, the progression of brain decline may vary from person to person.
It may be a fast decline or a slow decline.
The sad reality is, the decline won’t stop.
Symptoms will become worse and worse as time goes by.
Even if the reality of these patients is inevitable, only proper management of their symptoms is the most important thing to delay the progression and at least make them feel better.
Early symptoms they are experiencing in their early stage of dementia vary depending on which disorder is causing it.
Let’s take for example the most common cause of it, Alzheimer’s disease.
People with this brain disorder often suffer from forgetting things that recently happened. This is because the part of the brain called the hippocampus is the first portion that’s been damaged.
Hippocampus functions in forming new memories and learning.
Luckily, a recent study has shown that this part of the brain could form new brain cells as opposed to the known idea that brain cells can’t reproduce anymore if it matures well enough.
With that, there’s hope to find cure for patients suffering with this kind of brain disorder however, until then, we can only rely on supportive care, management, and therapy for now.
What interventions can be used for patients with dementia?
Various things like exercise, change of diet, and cognitive training will give benefits to the patient together with their medication, of course.
What I’m trying to say is that, even if it is inevitable decline of brain activity, there’s still a chance to at least prolong it declining process.
How could that possibly be?
Now we already know that the hippocampus is the part of the brain that is firstly affected in patients with dementia and it’s also been studied recently that has the capacity to form new brain cells.
We can therefore assume that training this part of the brain (example: playing jigsaw puzzles) could potentially ease symptoms of dementia patients.
Are jigsaw puzzles good for dementia?
Since people with dementia are struggling with their declining cognitive abilities, they need to exercise them to prolong their declining progress.
How? Well, jigsaw puzzling is a type of cognitive training that can stimulate the brain to work as it used to.
In my previous article benefits of jigsaw puzzles, I have mentioned my personal experiences with playing one. Some of those experiences are backed up with scientific evidence to which you can check on too.
You see, jigsaw puzzle training help people with dementia to practice their cognitive capabilities, and will also help to ease their symptoms.
Moreover, did you know that, most of the patients with dementia struggle with their psychological aspects too?
Some patients with dementia suffer from depression, anger issues, agitation, and sleeping problems.
All of these symptoms all boil down to the fact that they are struggling to remember normal things that they used to know and used to do on their own.
Say for example, in a normal person, there’s no difficulty in cleaning your room, washing the dishes, and even taking a bath on your own, right? But for patients with this brain disorder, normal things like that are hard tasks for them to do alone.
Again, this phase of their lives is inevitable.
It will happen sooner or later.
The only thing that we can do as their loved ones, is to at least ease their struggles a little bit by encouraging them on the level of their understanding in the stage of their disease.
Now, to help them lessen the effects of their symptoms, we need to help them practice their thinking brains like for example, by playing jigsaw puzzles.
A jigsaw puzzle is an educational game that can help stimulate the brain of the player to think and analyze things.
It can help the player by engaging them in those simple challenges and gain simple wins.
This positive type of outcome will increase their self-confidence and boost the release of their happy hormones.
You see, jigsaw puzzling isn’t cure at all but it can help lessen the struggles in their minds for at least a while.
Do puzzles delay dementia?
Jigsaw puzzling will help patients with dementia delay some of their symptoms for quite some time if they regularly engage in cognitive training such as this one.
Again, patients with dementia will have to face the sad reality of progressive declining brain activity as they age.
A cure for this disease isn’t available for the time being.
The only thing that can help them is to prolong the progression of the disease and to ease the symptoms they’re experiencing.
With that, improvement of their memories will not take place but it will help them to retain more information for a longer period of time when they keep on practicing playing it.
Dementia will progress to its worst.
No one can stop it.
The least thing we can do to help those people with dementia is by consistent medical attention and therapy to delay the disease.
Jigsaw puzzling isn’t only helping them cope up with some of their symptoms, but it can also help them bond with the people they used to love and used to know before they’ve got the disease.
It helps them to remember at least the feeling that someone is spending time to look after them even when they’re not in their best shape.
For them, spending quality time with them is an act of true love to which they will not forget in their heart despite having the disease.
Care to share if you have loved ones whom you share your jigsaw puzzling time? Please write down on the comment section below.