When we think back to being kids, puzzles were a go-to for a good time. That's because when we are engaged in the process of putting together puzzles, dopamine (a feel good hormone) is released from the brain.
Currently I'm trialling puzzles at work with my dementia care residents. With Australia day as a theme this month, I've made up Australian animals laminated puzzles ranging from 4 to 12 pieces for my late onset dementia residents. Responses to the puzzles have ranged from completely disinterested, mildly amused to completely immersed.
“Ah, it's a kangaroo,” she said. This lady loves to knit. In a moment of downtime away from her knitting needles we talked about kangaroo's as we pieced together a 6 piece laminated puzzle. Kangaroo's can jump three metres high and nine metres wide in one leap. She raised an eyebrow mildly amused.
This man lives with late onset dementia. He no longer understands the goal of activities but with step by step cuing, has some awareness of the task steps. I sat with him as we tried a four piece Emu puzzle. After I arranged the emu for him, he moved the pieces out then back in like a zooming lens, zooming out then back in for about 15 minutes, he was completely immersed in the activity. Our next puzzle will be an activity that he used to be interested in. As a young man he was a keen horse rider, so that will be a good place to start to tailor the activity more to his individual interests.
Australian Animals fun facts and photos for puzzle.pdf
Purposeful occupation can help with reduction in agitation, physical and verbal outbursts and most importantly, promotes quality of life in our patients, especially those with middle and late stage dementia.