Puzzles A Game Changer For Dementia Sufferers

A lot has been said and done to promote healthy living and incorporate various aspects of it in our everyday lives – avoiding junk food, exercising, taking vitamins etc. have all been a major points in the check-list so far. Perhaps not enough has been said about brain health and the effect puzzles have on the way our brains work.

Canadian Research Shows Solving Puzzle Games Helps Alzheimers and Dementia Sufferers

Portrait of a senior lady working on laptop in her kitchen.

A group of scientists from the University of Toronto, Canada were concerned about the high number of people suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Although many of the affected people exercised regularly (exercise being the major ‘antidote’ to mental illnesses), that did not help much. So a group of researchers under the lead of Dr Raza Naqvi, began trying to find other ways to preserve mental health, the main area of research including ‘easily accessible tools’ from the everyday life.

The research, which involved 25,000 healthy people, established that:

  • Taking vitamins, supplements or other medicines and drugs (including the popular ginkgo and Omega-3) if the main aim is to slow down or avoid dementia.
  • Exercising – which was considered highly useful for preserving one’s mental health – also showed little or no effect.

So What Is The Answer?

It appears that the solution to the problem is… solving puzzles!

  • Crosswords
  • Logic grid puzzles – eg. codewords puzzles and Sudoku

According to the researchers, people who have undergone mental training including logic grid puzzles such as Sudoku performed better at the follow-up trials even after five years. It turned out that their memory has actually improved. Playing the ever popular crossword puzzle was also beneficial.

Solving Logic Grid Puzzles Holds Many Benefits….

The results from the University of Toronto are the newest confirmation that logic grid puzzles, in particular Sudoku, is highly beneficial for our brain health. It is interesting to know that its advantages have been noticed not only in Canada, but also in the USA, where the American Alzheimer’s Association has actually endorsed Sudoku as ‘a brain game that might help people avoid this and other mental diseases.

Sudoku has also proven to have other interesting qualities. For one thing, researchers from the Western Washington University have found out that Sudoku is extremely effective in the case of ‘earworms – those songs that, once heard, we cannot un-hear. According to the scientists there, Sudoku helped people with ‘earworms’ get rid of the ‘sound’ in their heads faster than usual (a note: in order for the ‘treatment’ to work, it seems that the Sudoku puzzle you are solving must not be too hard).

Leaving aside the various research results, a lot of Sudoku fans claim that they solve the puzzles for the following reasons:

  • It helps them calm down,
  • Focus and order their minds.
  • Sudoku is an effective tool to detach yourself from the chaotic world and have some peace of mind– a feeling that remains for the rest of the day and proves effective in carrying out all the daily tasks.

A Sudoku A Day Keeps Dementia At Bay

Well, after all these opinions from scientists and puzzle solvers, there is only one thing we can advise you – try it! Spend half an hour of your time and see if a Sudoku is your cup of tea.  You will try something new, make a step towards preserving your brain health, and – something equally important – clear your mind and prepare it for the busy working day. 

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One Response on Puzzles A Game Changer For Dementia Sufferers
  1. Keith Ridgeway - October 8, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    I wish to thank you for this article.

    My story into how puzzles can help simulate and improve the lives of people of all abilities improve started back in 1992.

    My daughter Verity was just 15 months old when she was rushed to hospital with a life threating illness. The only why the doctors could save my daughter’s life was to prescribe her with heavy doses of antibiotics.

    The doctors saved my daughter’s life and her physical health return to normal, but her medical health did not especially with dealing with logic and memory situation.

    The shock came when at the age of 4 and her school called us in and said – “I’m sorry Mr and Mrs Ridgeway but your daughter has learning difficulties and needs to be moved to a special school; we do not have the skills or the time.

    It was at this point her mother and I got upset and angry that our daughter could be written off like that. We decided to research how the left and right sides of brain work and react to logic, colour and shape. We looked everywhere and tried all different types of development and learning tools, but nothing seemed to work. In the end and after 3 years of trial and error we finally created a colour puzzle number line puzzle call Arithmasticks (went on to become award winner) , plus a number of other shape and colour puzzles.

    Arithmasticks worked and today some and 26 years later our daughter Verity reached her full potential “ she gained a degree in make-up and cosmetics and is a manager for a top cosmetic company”
    In 2001 set up Eduplay to develop Arithmasticks and other children puzzles and wooden toys and in 2004 I took over George Luck puzzles which had gone out of business) and set up George Luck Ltd After 6 years and due to my frustration at the Lucks refusal to bring on new artists and surface pattern designer, I decided to close the company in 2010.

    In 2011 I remarried – My very talented wife Melanie “London born and studied surface pattern design at London’s St Martins and Central school of art”. Melanie’s understanding of colour, shape and her skill at building mosaic art is very unique.

    I knew with the right training, Melanie could create a unique range of high quality wooden layered mosaic puzzles that will help children and adults of all abilities reached their full potential, support those families who are in the same position that I was.

    Moving forward to 2016 , Melanie and I launched Fox Puzzles of London in February. Melaine and I have created 33 unique wooden layered mosaic puzzles, that hope will not only help children to reach their full potential.

    Our puzzles will help all children abilities and those suffering from dementia, more specifically Alzheimer’s Disease. We hope our puzzles will give the support to the mum’s, dad’s and families who feel helpless in trying to make things better for their love ones.

    I hope this story helps others not to give up.


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