Can Crossword Puzzles Stave Off Cognitive Decline?

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Crossword puzzles are popular in niche crowds in many different demographics. However, they have gained quite the following among elderly people who are trying to keep their brains sharp and active. Many individuals are understandably terrified of the possibility of experiencing cognitive decline, and they want to be able to ward it off as much as possible. Fortunately for them, it seems that some parts of this process are going to be within the control of the people who are trying to stay mentally fit and healthy. Many experts recommend that older people do things like crossword puzzles in order to hold onto their mental acuity.

People use a lot of their brains when they complete crossword puzzles. On the one hand, these puzzles manage to activate people’s spatial skills. Crossword puzzles involve navigating arrangements of words that are positioned against each other in odd, angular ways, which forces people to alter their perspective in a way that can exercise the visual and spatial centers of the brain. Naturally, people are relying on their memories as well in order to follow the clues of crosswords. The process of actually accessing one’s memory for words can help a person develop the abilities that are involved in learning and recall. Having strong powers of recall is associated with young people, but older people who do crossword puzzles can hold onto these powers for much longer. Recall is an ability that is part of fluid intelligence. Fluid intelligence can decline with age, but it can be preserved by the older people who take time to stay sharp.

People can learn things as a result of crossword puzzles, but they will only learn little pieces of trivia and facts. As such, crossword puzzles won’t do much to improve a person’s crystallized intelligence. However, crystallized intelligence tends to increase with age anyway, even among older people of average intelligence or below-average intelligence. The fact that crossword puzzles have a minimal effect on crystallized intelligence shouldn’t make much of a difference for anyone.

Of course, one of the most important parts of keeping your mind sharp is seeking out novelty. Learning new information and trying new things is what is ultimately going to keep a lot of people sharp. The older people that gradually lose it all are the people who get too set in their ways, doing the same work and interacting with the exact same people over and over again. They aren’t challenging their minds anymore. The younger people who are still in school and still learning new trades are challenging their minds all the time as a matter of course, which is part of the reason why they appear to constantly be getting smarter in the first place. One of the great things about crossword puzzles is the simple fact that crossword puzzles seem to create challenges like this as a matter of course.