As a fan of puzzles like me, I often enjoy the benefits they give me, like relaxation and a sense of slower time pace while playing them; however, I am curious if the elderly group experiences the same mental benefits I received.
Elderly people often have trouble in their cognitive functions because of the natural mental decline they encounter. Still, these things can be improved by playing tangrams which they can have more sense of control and fulfillment, mindfulness, stress reduction, and more.
In this article, you will know how playing Tangrams benefits the well-being of the elderly and which brain functions may be enhanced when done regularly.
What Are The Benefits Of Playing Tangram Puzzles To The Elderly?
Playing the Tangram puzzle is a challenging brain teaser game that is entertaining and provides cognitive benefits to the elderly to keep their brain active and engaged, which I think is crucial for maintaining healthy cognitive functioning as we grow old.
You see, Tangram puzzles have been played and enjoyed for centuries, ever since ancient China.
It has been considered a mental exercise since then because it requires players to use several cognitive abilities, such as visual-spatial skills, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
A study has shown that engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as solving puzzles, can help manage the decline of cognitive abilities in older adults.
But the benefits of playing tangram puzzles don’t stop there!
Tangram puzzles can also provide stress relief and improve physical dexterity.
It’s a great way to relax and take a break from the demands of daily life while also giving the hands and fingers a workout.
Moreover, playing the Tangram puzzle is a great way for seniors to socialize and connect.
Many assisted living communities, and senior centers offer tangram classes and groups, allowing individuals to bond over a common interest and share tips and strategies for solving puzzles.
In addition, tangram puzzles are inexpensive and portable, making them easy to take with you and play wherever you go.
They can be a perfect way to pass the time while waiting in line or during a long car ride.
These benefits from playing Tangram all boil down to its effect on our brain function.
Let’s discuss it further in the next section.
How Does Playing Tangram Improve Brain Function?
Playing Tangram puzzles is incredibly beneficial for the brain. But how exactly does playing Tangram improve brain function? Let’s dive in.
Solving tangram puzzles requires using various cognitive skills such as memory, problem-solving, and spatial awareness that give our brain a mentally stimulating workout to keep us sharp as we grow old.
This, in turn, helps to improve brain function and slow down cognitive abilities decline like the 5 skills we usually use below.
Here are 5 cognitive skills that can be improved while playing Tangram:
1. Visual-spatial skills can be improved for the elderly.
Visual-spatial skills refer to the ability to understand and interpret visual information, such as the position and movement of objects in space, and the ability to mentally manipulate visual information.
These skills are important for navigating, reading maps, and judging distances.
Now, as we age, our visual-spatial skills can decline.
In fact, I see some older adults having difficulties with tasks that require visual-spatial skills, such as reading fine print or following a moving object and having more trouble with tasks that require mental rotation or visualization, such as putting together a puzzle.
To maintain and improve our visual-spatial skills, one way we can this is to engage ourselves in mentally stimulating activities, such as playing video games and puzzles, reading, engaging in physical exercise, and adding a lot of good night’s sleep.
Playing Tangram, too, improves visual-spatial skills because it fires up our brain activities.
When players manipulate the tans and fit them together to form a specific shape or image, their cognitive brain functions, like when we read maps, understand diagrams, and navigate in space.
Lastly, managing any chronic health conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, is necessary to help support visual-spatial skills too.
2. Problem Solving Skills Are Supported For The Seniors.
Problem-solving in the elderly can become more complex as cognitive decline and age-related changes in the brain occur.
But there are ways to support their problem-solving abilities, like playing with them using brain-stimulating puzzles like tangrams.
Playing tangrams makes you think critically and creatively to solve the puzzles by thinking outside the box and coming up with different solutions.
3. Critical Thinking Skills Are Maintained.
Critical thinking is analyzing information, making logical connections, and coming to well-reasoned conclusions.
As with memory, critical thinking skills are also affected with age, but the extent of decline can vary greatly among individuals, which can be dealt with in various ways.
One way to improve critical thinking skills is to engage in brain-teasing activities.
Reading, engaging in social interactions, and learning new things, such as a new language or hobby are some of the best examples to do this.
Playing Tangram is an inexpensive way to keep our brains kicking because it only requires players to analyze the shapes and sizes of the tans to determine which ones will fit together to form the desired shape.
4. Slows Down Cognitive Function Decline
Cognitive function in the elderly can decline as a result of normal aging and from conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
As we age, we must keep our minds active and challenged to maintain cognitive function and prevent age-related decline.
Playing tangrams can help to improve memory, attention, and perception.
The game requires players to remember the shapes of the tans and how they fit together, as well as to pay attention to the details of the puzzle.
This can help to keep the mind sharp and prevent cognitive decline.
RECOMMENDED READ: Did you know that playing Sudoku can also help the elderly to improve their cognitive decline? Read here to learn more: 9 Reasons Why Sudoku Is Good For Old People
5. Make Memory Sharp With Regular Practice.
Memory decline with age making it difficult to form new memories, take longer to recall information and have more trouble remembering names and faces.
Playing Tangrams is one way to make your memory sharp with regular practice.
You can keep figuring out which tans you have used already and which are not. You’ll try to remember which tans work in this shape and which is not by repeating it repeatedly until you reach your desired shape.
You see, practice makes great improvements! All you have to do is let yourself freely play tangrams and keep trying new things.
Now that we know the benefits of playing tangrams among seniors, let’s find out how it affects their well-being in the long run.
How Does Playing Tangram Affect The Total Well Being Of Our Senior Citizens?
Playing Tangram puzzles affects the well-being of our elderly by improving their attention span, decreasing their mental stress, improving their dexterity, and building their self-confidence, resilience, and social interactions.
Let’s discuss each of them in detail below.
1. Improvements Of Attention Span
In playing Tangram, players are required to pay attention to the details of the tans and how they fit together.
This kind of activity helps improve attention and focus that can utilize the best of their thinking brain.
You see, it is inevitable to have the focus we have now when we age.
So to maintain what it is now, we should exercise our brain muscles as much as possible.
2. Provides Mental Stress Relief
Elderly individuals can experience stress from various sources, including health concerns, financial worries, social isolation, and loss of loved ones, which can lead to multiple health problems, including cardiovascular disease, depression, and cognitive decline.
One way to relax, unwind and reduce stress is by playing tangrams.
Playing tangrams is both calming and meditative, allowing players to focus on the present moment, forget their worries, and relax.
3. Improve Physical Dexterity
Playing Tangram helps develop and improve fine motor skills, which can benefit older adults who may experience age-related decline in dexterity.
You see, Tangram requires players to manipulate the tans with their hands, which can help to improve hand-eye coordination and dexterity.
For older adults with conditions such as arthritis, it can be beneficial in the sense that they can engage in a low-impact exercise using their hands to improve their fine motor skills.
4. Can Boost Social Interaction
Tangram can be played with friends or family, making it a great way to interact with others and bond over a shared activity.
For older adults who may be more isolated or lonely, playing Tangram can provide an opportunity for social interaction and connection in the nursing home.
Tangram puzzles can be played with or without visual aids, and the difficulty level can be adjusted to suit the player’s abilities.
Also, playing Tangram for the elderly helps them be more emotionally connected with others and physically connected with their surroundings by merely playing with it regularly.
The benefits of playing Tangram to old people include improving their cognitive and mental functions and their total well-being by enhancing their physical dexterity, social skills, and focus.
Wanted to play Tangram with your grandparents? Here are some tips you need to know before you start: Know the do’s and dont’s of tangram.