According to several studies, it’s proven people who engage in activities like jigsaw puzzles and other mind games, and lead an active lifestyle, live longer. By staying active, they also lessen their chances of developing Alzheimer’s, memory loss and dementia. Who knew puzzles and other thought-provoking games were so beneficial?
Evidently Dick Ross does. He is a resident at Spangler Towers, and for years has been an advocate for jigsaw puzzles, enlisting assistance from anyone who is interested.
Each morning he opens the doors of the community room at 6 a.m., and starts the day by working on a puzzle for a while.
“I’ve been here 12 years, and we have probably put together more than 100 puzzles,” said Ross. “It gives me and the other residents something to do, something to keep our minds busy. All of us do not have family here, so this helps occupy our time.”
Working puzzles makes us alert, increases concentration, improves short-term memory and creates a calming atmosphere. A puzzle is not a total cure for loneliness, but it can open the door for people to interact.
At Spangler Towers, each participant has different things they enjoy doing. Some concentrate on the puzzles, while others enjoy playing games or cards.
After completing the puzzles, most are sealed with a product called mod podge, and then framed and placed on the walls of the facility. The residents do puzzles of various sizes, some up to 1,500 pieces.
Ross remembers a lighthouse puzzle that turned out to be very difficult.
“I almost lost my salvation on that one,” said Ross. “The lighthouse was somewhat harder, but the water and the rocks had so much shading, that it took a lot of time.”
Ross is a multi-talented man, making most of the frames used on the finished puzzles. He makes some from scratch, but has also re-sized some to fit specific sizes.
The 88-year-old is very active, walking two miles each day, and taking aerobic classes three days a week.
“The good Lord gave me the ability to help others, so that’s what I try to do,” said Ross.