More Than Just Games-
Doing activities that challenge our brain and help maintain its skills and health are vital as we age. Two of the most common brain-stimulating activities done by adults are word search and crossword puzzles. They have become staples to those adults hoping to keep their brains fresh and active. Let’s take a closer look at how these activities have become such mainstays in culture over the years and how they help to maintain a healthy brain.
The creation of the crossword puzzle is accredited to British journalist Arthur Wynne. His puzzle was first published in 1913 as it appeared in the Sunday edition of the New York World. During the 1920’s most American newspapers began regularly featuring Crossword puzzles and the practice of doing so has continued to this day.
Word search puzzles on the other hand were created only fifty years ago. In 1968, in Norman, Oklahoma, a want-ad distributed by Safeway featured the first word search puzzle. These puzzles quickly gained popularity among local schools. They became recognized nationally soon thereafter when teachers began sending them out to friends around the country. Today, word search puzzles can be found in daily newspapers, puzzle books, and easy-to-use phone apps.
Crossword and word search puzzles are routinely done by adults not only because they are fun, but also because they help to exercise specific processes that are vital to a healthy, active brain. Working through a crossword puzzle will exercise a person’s long-term memory and word retrieval as they try to find the right word using the given clue. Strategy and logic skills are also used in crossword puzzles as you work your way around using letters to previously answered clues. Word search puzzles are an excellent tool for exercising visual scanning and recognition. Strategy and planning skills are also engaged as you carefully and methodically scan through a puzzle looking for specific letters of words.
There are many things which can be done to help exercise and maintain a healthy brain. Crossword and word search puzzles have a long history of being two activities that do just that. For those of you looking, not only for crossword and word search puzzles, but for a wide-variety of cognitively stimulating activities and games, consider attending one of your community’s Brain Builders sessions. Brain Builders offers a fun and accessible way to keep your brain healthy, active, and strong. Check your activities calendar or ask your LEC for the specific times that Brain Builders sessions are held each week.