Puzzles are encouraging socializing and creativity at St. Andrew’s Terrace

Residents are also exercising cognitive function and working collaboratively to complete puzzle projects
5/15/2019  - Deron Hamel
St. Andrew’s Terrace residents Lorraine Gillett and Joan Bygrave pose with a puzzle they created.  

Puzzles have become all the rage at St. Andrew’s Terrace recently.

It started when a resident at the Cambridge, Ont. long-term care community mentioned to life enrichment worker Daniela Rosiu that she enjoyed doing puzzles and asked about getting space set up for people to work on puzzles.

Daniela set up tables in two areas where residents could do puzzles. What started as one resident’s interest quickly spread across St. Andrew’s Terrace as more and more residents – as well as their visiting family members – became interested in creating puzzles.

Residents have pieced together many puzzles, and Daniela will take photos of their completed projects. The result, Daniela says, is that residents are reaping a sense of accomplishment, they’re increasing socialization and working together, and they’re exercising important cognitive functions.

Some residents will spend hours sitting at a table putting puzzles together, while other residents will simply stop by a table with a partially completed puzzle, put a missing piece into the matching spot, and then move on.

Doing puzzles can even improve mood for some residents, since the sense of accomplishment they garner from completing a puzzle, or even getting a correct piece in place, can produce dopamine, a chemical messenger that stimulates the brain, Daniela notes.

“(Doing puzzles) can also lower stress for some residents,” she says. “If we are stressed but can find a place for us to relax, it’s something that helps us.”

Daniela says she even sees successes when residents are having trouble getting the correct pieces in place. If a resident cannot find the piece, they will work with other residents to find that piece and put it in place, she says.

“This is something that has had a positive impact on helping people socialize and getting people together and also to help them exercise their brain,” Daniela says.

“It has been good for us to see because we are interested in creating an enriched and happy environment where people can be themselves, but also where the residents can interact and socialize and get to know each other while they are enjoying that social time.”

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