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Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles for Seniors: 15 Reasons Why I Regularly Do Jigsaw Puzzles

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

senior couple doing a jigsaw puzzle at home

Once you hit a certain age, life begins to slow down. You find that you start taking longer to do tasks that you’d ordinarily complete within a short time. That’s when you know that your title tag has changed; you’re now a senior citizen or retiree with time on your hands. 

In my opinion, one of the best ways to utilize this time is by regularly doing jigsaw puzzles. They will not only kill time but also add value to your general health. Read on for more reasons why jigsaw puzzles should be your preferred pastime.

A retiree or a senior citizen can do jigsaw puzzles to improve their overall quality of life. Some of the valuable benefits of building puzzles include enhancing social, problem-solving, and collaborative skills. 

Older adults become upbeat and relaxed with improved memory when they build jigsaw puzzles. Their motor skills are refined because of the movements involved in slotting, sliding, and putting puzzle pieces in place. 

Motor skills are an important aspect in most elderly, whose muscles and limbs get stiff with age. It translates to a better hold of objects, minimal incidences of shaking, and better hand-eye coordination.

Want to learn more about the reasons why I regularly do jigsaw puzzles as a retiree? Read on.

1. Enhances Social Ties

As you age, your circle of friends grows smaller, networks diminish, and social events become almost non-existent. Such circumstances can be overwhelming for seniors, particularly the outgoing type. Puzzles are a perfect way of bridging the gap and bringing the family or close friends together whenever they play with their senior family member. 

It gives them a chance to interact, communicate with, and help the older citizen or even applaud them when they correctly place a piece. This satisfaction encourages the senior to play and concentrate more, which strengthens the social ties.

Engaging in small talk further stimulates happiness and boosts their self-esteem. If you are busy as the caregiver, your loved one can do the puzzle with the grandchildren, which further cements the family bond.

2. Improves Your Mood

Puzzles excite your brain, particularly when you build them successfully. It leads to the release of a chemical called dopamine, which is responsible for happiness in humans. 

Playing puzzles, therefore, improves your mood, health, and self-esteem because you feel that you can at least achieve something. The timelessness of puzzles is convenient for the elderly as they can play any time they want. This means that if they are in a foul mood or in low spirits, all they need to do is grab a puzzle.

3. Serves as Meditation

Meditation is an important aspect in seniors’ lives as you cut off all stressors and triggers around you to reflect inwards within yourself. This improves brain function, intensifies blood flow, and enhances the immune system. 

Building puzzles train the brain to shift from its normal state to a relaxed state. It puts their mind in a trance allowing for meditation. When you’re in such a position where you silence the mind, your anxiety lessens.

4. Relieves Stress

Senior citizens struggle a lot with bodily changes and pressure from their earlier years. They could have concerns about their health, wealth, achievements or lack of them, children’s welfare, changing lifestyles, and debts. 

All these can take a toll on them. Luckily, puzzles help counter the pressures of life and relieve stress because when playing, you’re fully immersed in a way you forget your problems and enjoy every bit of the game.

5. Refine Attention to Detail

Assembling pieces calls for greater attention to detail so that you can be able to tell the colors apart and see which shapes fit where. When the puzzle pieces are very similar or tiny, you need to pay close attention to identify the small differences if you’re to build the image completely. 

Being able to pay close attention to such minute details spills over to every area of life as you find yourself scrutinizing and seeing things with a third eye.

6. Activate Cognitive Functions in the brain

senior man playing with puzzles on table

Doing puzzles is a great way to exercise your mental faculties and boost your cognitive abilities. They act on both your left and right brain. The left side is about objective, methodical, and logical processes, while the right one involves creativity, intuitive thinking, and emotions. 

A jigsaw puzzle requires both sides of the brain, which increases the cognitive function, a crucial aspect at this age when there’s a decline in everything, including your cognitive capacity. As a result, puzzling can help increase memory power and sharpen the mind.

7. Build Teamwork and Collaboration

Working with your friends or loved ones strengthens collaboration and teamwork. As a retiree, you will need to discuss what the big picture is and how to put the pieces in place.

8. Raise Your Concentration Levels

When you work on your jigsaw puzzle, you have to put your whole mind to it. That means overlooking any distractions or minimizing them so that you can find the appropriate parts and piece together your puzzle. It, therefore, raises your concentration levels. 

This is especially important for seniors as their concentration tends to wane with time. Jigsaw puzzles will build this up gradually, which minimizes irritability and other such behaviors.

9. Stimulate Your Memory

Jigsaw puzzles contain many tiny pieces. You’re required to memorize some pieces as you play since you’ll need to search for specific ones using their colors or shapes. Given your age, being able to store such information greatly exercises your brain. 

It reinforces neural connections, which enhances your thought processes and mental speed. Such exercises strengthen the development and endurance of new neurons in your hippocampus. 

The hippocampus is the area in your brain that deals with long-term memory. Ultimately, your short-term memory and the long-term one receive a major boost.

10. Increase Problem-Solving Skills

Your problem-solving skills improve every time you build puzzles because you have to identify where each piece fits. You do this by focusing on the pattern, piece outline, or color. All this summons your full attention. It builds your problem-solving skills as you get used to puzzling. You need these skills to help you counter conflicts and deal with the daily changes in your body and around you.

11. Elevate Your Reasoning

To work on the puzzles, you need to assemble them and, through the many different pieces, envision the outcome. The more you play with jigsaw puzzles, the better your visual-spatial awareness becomes. 

This awareness is important given that it decreases as you grow older, yet you need it to understand what goes on around you and how to interrelate with your environment. Puzzles help you improve your visual recognition and maintain spatial perspective through consistent playing. 

12. Teach Perseverance

As you age, you tend to have trouble focusing on huge tasks. Most times, you just want simple, straightforward things to do in the shortest time possible. Puzzles help you learn about perseverance in a fun way. You get to see where your progress is going. 

This encourages you to push on. As you continue building more jigsaw puzzles, you realize that you can stand the process, hence persevering. 

13. Offer a Sense of Satisfaction

Building puzzles gives you something to look forward to. As a retiree or senior adult, you have a lot of time on your hands. Putting your mind on the puzzle and working on it for a given period builds up the excitement. 

As the pictures start forming, you’re motivated, which culminates into a sense of accomplishment once you complete it. This is precisely what you need at your age as it rejuvenates your soul. In turn, that feeling of victory leads to the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain.

Senior couple working on a puzzle

14. Are Suitable For Relaxation

The beauty of jigsaw puzzles is that you can work with others, or you can work alone. When you choose to build the puzzle solo, you get to unwind peacefully as you stimulate your brain. It even feels like a mini-vacation that resets you after your usual daily routine. 

Working with others is a cheerful way of relaxing and sharing stories as the puzzle image takes shape. It enables you to reduce blood pressure and slow down your breathing rate due to its calming effect.

15. Enable a Regular Sleeping Pattern

Growing older presents new challenges such as insomnia and restlessness at night. If you try to lull yourself to sleep by watching a movie or using your phone, you might aggravate the problem instead of solving it.

Puzzling has the right footprint among seniors as it helps enhance your sleep quality and pattern. Because you engage your brain fully when piecing puzzles, your mind gets tired naturally, and before you know it, you are ready to nod it off.

Last Word

Puzzles are an entertaining and interesting way of engaging seniors. They offer mental, social, and physical health benefits. From keeping them busy and uplifting their mood to enhancing their problem-solving skills, this great pastime brings relief to the retirees and elderly in society and their loved ones and caregivers.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.