In a world of Sudoku and weekend national newspaper crossword puzzles, the lowly jigsaw puzzle may seem to be mere childís play.† If you think this, get your hands on a good 500 piecer, and you are in for a spanking!† Jigsaw puzzles can be mind-bendingly tough, providing your brain (and your patience) with an extensive workout that enhances several mental functions.
The benefits of solving jigsaw puzzles include exercising and sharpening your memory, strengthening the connections between your memory centers, improved hand-eye and spatial coordination, and observation skills.† The process of referencing the big picture and hunting for the right pieces at the right time nurture logical thought processes, including analyzing, sequencing and deducing skills.
As with other mind-stimulating leisure activities, solving jigsaw puzzles doubles the decreased likelihood of developing Alzheimerís disease.† This effect is linked to participating in these activities between the ages of 20 and 60, further confirming that puzzles are not just for kids.
While it hasnít been determined that intellectual stimulation can prevent the onset of Alzheimerís, according to Dr. Zaven Khachaturian, Editor in Chief of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, puzzling builds up a reserve of neuron connections, which serves to delay the onset of the disease.
An additional benefit of jigsaw puzzling is that it can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike, though kids may lose patience during those spans when no easy connections are being made (OK, not just the kids!)† Maybe make this a souvenir of choice when your family goes on vacation.† There are a number of jigsaw puzzle manufacturers who produce puzzles made from 100% recycled paper.
My recommendation: set the puzzle up in a space where it can safely stay intact for several weeks, and let everyone fiddle with it at their leisure.† When that last piece is place the thrill of victory can be enjoyed by all.