Puzzles at the Library Support Cognitive Health

Want to improve your short-term memory? Try doing more puzzles!

Find fun ways to keep your brain functioning at its best.

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, making it a better time than ever to discuss senior citizens’ need for mental stimulation as they head into their later years. Alzheimer’s can have devastating effects on senior citizens and their loved ones, and we don’t fully understand the causes or methods of prevention yet.

There are, however, a few promising leads that show a link between mental engagement and resilience against cognitive decline. We’ll explore this link and how your local libraries play a surprisingly important role in facilitating the support needed for healthy cognitive function.


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Puzzles and Cognitive Health

Studies have shown that one’s lifestyle is strongly linked to cognitive health, especially in their golden years. A mentally and physically active lifestyle, for example, may be able to stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s for years or mitigate its effects if it has already started.

A physically sedentary and socially isolated lifestyle, however, may do the exact opposite. It’s all too easy for seniors, especially those living alone, to fall into the trap of a sedentary lifestyle, so as caretakers, we must support them however we can.

Activities like jigsaw puzzles and board games have proven to be an unexpected but effective solution. These activities require hands-on engagement and careful thinking, allowing seniors to stay mentally engaged on a regular basis.

There’s an additional social component involved as well, with many board games and puzzles being designed with groups in mind. Connecting with these groups is yet another way to help senior citizens fight cognitive decline. (More on that later!)

Simply put, puzzles, board games, and the mental and social engagement they require are great for boosting cognitive health and can help keep the senior citizens in your life lucid and sharp, no matter their age.


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How the Local Library Can Help

Mentally engaging activities and social interaction have been observed to reduce the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s. By their nature, libraries provide both of these in spades, and many even offer special days for their senior patrons. During these senior days, visitors can read, socialize, and work on fun activities like puzzles together. 

In addition, many external senior groups choose to meet at the library, so look around online to find one. The Hudson Puzzle Club, for example, can be found with a quick five-minute Facebook search. If your senior relatives know their way around a computer, they can become a part of this online community to stay engaged, but if not, they can also attend in-person club meetings at the Hudson Park Library in New York.

Of course, this is just one example of many. Do a bit of looking around, and you’re sure to find similar social clubs in your area. These clubs are just as, if not more, beneficial than the public libraries themselves, so any time spent looking for one is time well spent.

As for the libraries themselves, many have curated puzzle collections, while others, like Connecticut’s Danbury Library, have memory kits that can help manage Alzheimer’s symptoms. Aside from the standard puzzles you’d expect, these memory kits include fidget tools like stress balls, coloring books, colored pencils, and conversation cards to encourage seniors to keep their memory recall sharp.

If you’re the caretaker of an elderly loved one, your local library may be able to help you in more ways than you’d think, so try to schedule a visit sometime soon!

Libraries have resources to support patrons of all ages, from infancy to old age. If you want to learn more about those resources, feel free to visit our Medium page at EveryLibrary today!



Visit www.everylibrary.org to learn more about our work on behalf of libraries.

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