Guest post by Dee McConnell, LLI Program Leader
Exercising your mind is important at all ages. The brain is made up of many specialized areas and nearly 100 billion neurons. If not used consistently, the brain can become atrophied. Brain atrophy essentially destroys neurons and the connections that help cells communicate. Mental exercises help stimulate the brain and sharpen thinking, memory, reasoning, and processing skills. According to scientists, seniors can gain an additional 14 years of “cognitive youth” by practicing mental exercises. Learn how this top mental exercise can help slow cognitive decline and improve mental capacity. Many LLI members tout the benefits of Puzzles.
Puzzles are among the most popular of aging adults’ mental exercises. During this time of Covid-19, mind stimulation in aging adults is key to surviving. For many of us, it is necessary to weather the storm in isolation. Science has found that solving puzzles can be advantageous for both mental health and relaxation. Additionally, puzzles are easy to integrate into your daily routine and can be fun to complete alone or with friends on remote conferencing format, like Zoom. There are all types of puzzles to try, such as traditional jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, or crosswords. In a study of 488 elderly participants in New York City, researchers found that participating in crossword puzzles helped delay the onset of accelerated memory decline by an average of 2.54 years. Puzzles can also be a fun pastime for aging adults who may be suffering from various mental health issues, such as depression.
Sites such as The Atlantic, L.A. Times, N.Y. Times, and AARP offer free daily crossword puzzles and other games to keep your brain stimulated. Amazon and other retailers offer a variety of puzzles for sale to fit your skill and entertainment levels.