Week 3, 8th April. Activity - Puzzles
1). Crosswords can be very useful for those with certain dementias. Often carers are surprised by a person's ability to solve crosswords when they can struggle with speech or thought patterns and processes. In particular, those who have enjoyed solving crosswords in the past can often continue to do so long after it may have been expected.
2). Wordsearches. These are a good option as they can be tailored to suit most needs. From very simple, large formats with few words, to much more dense and detailed options. These can be easily downloaded from various internet sites.
3). Sudoku. The number rather than letter puzzle. Many people fit into the 'either/or' camp when it comes to preference of numbers or letters. And if someone is really not interested in word type puzzles, numbers may be an alternative they could enjoy.
4). Jigsaws are ideal at any age and therefore particularly beneficial to those with dementia. The great thing about jigsaws is that they can vary from a basic two piece puzzle to as many as you like, with a similar well being boost given by the sense of achievement when completing them, whatever their size. Also it's a lovely activity to share with someone with dementia.
5). 'Fidget' type puzzles. These are usually hand held and vary from activity blankets to more difficult ones which require some level of dexterity. Nearly all dementia shops and websites sell them now and they are becoming increasingly popular as there is something to suit all stages of dementia.
Talk about the types of scenes you like on jigsaw puzzles. What puzzles did you do when you were younger? Which puzzles do you like best and least? How have your interests in puzzles changed over the years? Do you still like the same type as when you were younger, or have your tastes changed?
Having some quiet time is good for both you and the person you care for. Sometimes you could do a puzzle together, or sometimes you may be able to settle someone with an activity they are happy in for a while so you can get some well earned peace.
Puzzles can be great for those struggling with concentration, or for general mental health and stimulation. I have been amazed at how many people have told me the person they care for is still able to enjoy crosswords of varying complexity.
Many puzzles can be downloaded free from online sources. These include newspaper websites, as well as specific puzzle sites. Just put the type of puzzle you're looking for into Google and there will be plenty to choose from. Again, if this is a problem for whatever reason, just contact me and I'll happily do that and post some out to you.
Remember to match the levels of difficulty to whoever will be doing them, and vary this if and when necessary.
Try downloading wordsearches and crosswords related to specific interests (e.g. gardening). Do the same when choosing jigsaws.
If you're feeling creative, try making a jigsaw. Just find a picture you like in a magazine, stick it onto some cardboard (an old cereal box will do), and cut it into an appropriate number of pieces. Try to cut in shaped lines (squiggly!) rather than straight so they can be obviously fitted together.
Until next week, take care and happy puzzling!