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Encouraging brain health at Jo Co Senior Center

Submitted by Meg Dickens

The Johnson County Senior Center prides itself in improving the quality of life for aging citizens. One method used for this is activities conducive to better brain health, such as puzzles. National Puzzle Day is this Saturday, so it is the ideal time to look at what improvements incorporating this type of activity can make.
According to a 2000 study published in The Psychology of Aging, crosswords seem to reduce negative effects related to aging in memory and perception-based tasks. Cognitive research professionals also say this improves reasoning. The Johnson County Senior Center gives away boxes of word puzzle books and magazines to help with brain health donated by the local Food Lion branch each month. This is popular with members, and the books go quickly.
Group puzzle work also has a social aspect. While working together, members chat and catch up with the daily lives of their friends. This social aspect is one of the recurring themes within many center activities, which can help lead to improved mental health.
USA Today data also shows that doing jigsaw puzzles has a positive effect on memory and seeing the “big picture.” Putting together puzzles is a popular activity at the center that has evolved from a hobby to something more. It all started with a Coca-Cola puzzle that Director Kathy Motsinger and Janet Griffith had framed for the man cave. After that, people started bringing in puzzles they would like framed. These range from regular puzzles to those that hold sentimental value or even photos of loved ones.
Puzzling has even brought some money into the center. Select pieces are auctioned off each year to help benefit the facility. Others are returned to the original owners or offered as gifts of appreciation.
The Johnson County Senior Center Jigsawers work at the back of the building and are open to new participants. Keep up to date on the clubs, events, trips, and more going on at the center at, social media, the monthly newsletter, or call (423) 727-8883.