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Can brain puzzles help keep dementia at bay?

The brain is the most complex and truly amazing organ in the body. If we don’t exercise our muscles as we age, we lose muscle tone. Likewise, if we don’t exercise our mind, the mind becomes weaker as well. Recently, there has been considerable interest in researching the role that mental exercise may play in reducing the risk of developing dementia and the benefits it offers to people who have it.

January is International Brain Teaser Month. Recent findings suggest that brain training may help to improve various aspects of memory in older people. Keeping the brain active may be beneficial in helping to delay the onset and treat age-related diseases like dementia. A study by King’s College in London showed that healthy 60-year olds who took part in a six-month online brain training programme had higher scores on measures of verbal learning and reasoning compared to people who did not undertake the training. Other research suggests that brain training may also help to slow down the development of Alzheimer’s disease in people who are beginning to develop memory problems. Numerous studies have also suggested that engaging in more mentally stimulating activities throughout life has been proven to be associated with better cognitive function.


Some of the types of brain teasers that you can enjoy throughout International Brain Teaser Month and the rest of the year include:


Sudoku puzzles are completely numerical, meaning they do not have any words and can only be approached in one way. Whether it is the simplest version or the most complicated, sudoku has the goal of arranging the numbers 1 to 9 in blocks within a square in a way that they coordinate with all of the other squares in the board so that both vertical and horizontal lines contain all of the digits. Some people find sudoku to be extremely relaxing and therapeutic as they bring a sense of calm and order and can be played by children, adults and senior citizens alike.


Riddles are a fantastic way to practice memory skills, cognitive processing skills, critical thinking skills, and problem-solving skills through realistic situations. You must read through clues and use the information in them to determine the hidden answer. Quite often, these can be extremely challenging and require complex thinking.


Word Search puzzles

Word searches help test our brain’s relationship with language and can be an excellent way of keeping your brain fit.  Studies have shown that word search and other puzzles can help improve memory, focus, vocabulary and overall mental intellect.




For those who are not engaged by logic or Sudoku-style puzzles, jigsaws are mentally stimulating in a more fun and relaxed way. Like other puzzles, these come in a range of difficulty from very simple to extremely challenging, making them perfect for your seniors whether they want to do something on their own or would rather enjoy an activity with you or their senior health care services provider. These require patience, memory, and problem solving skills.


Taking these practical steps to build and maintain brain health can be really beneficial in the long run to help reduced the rate of cognitive decline and a reduced risk of developing dementia later in life. Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Twitter page for our weekly puzzles. To find out more about the work of Glasgow Memory Clinic or one of our clinical trials, contact us here.


Posted 24th January 2019

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