Do Crossword Puzzles Help with Alzheimer's and Memory Retention? Here’s the Truth
Perhaps because it’s a hobby generally preferred by older folks, but there’s always been a solid buzz around solving crosswords and the apparent improvement in memory. Some go so far as to say that crosswords can prevent alzheimer's, and a few outliers even say that crosswords can cure alzheimers.
We’re here to tell you that yes, crosswords do indirectly help with memory and the prevention (not cure) of alzheimer’s... but not necessarily in the way you think. This is your quick guide to crosswords and the medical research behind them - we’ll lay it out in plain English so you can understand the connections without being a scientist yourself.
Do crosswords help with Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's is a well-known disease that causes memory degradation in elders. Unfortunately, the idea that crossword puzzles help with alzheimer's is a myth.
To date, there has been no scientific evidence of this claim, although to be fair, there haven’t been a plethora of studies conducted on the topic, either. University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine gives a good breakdown on the associated studies on this page.
Indirect help provided
Although doing crosswords isn’t guaranteed to help alzheimer's, crosswords (and a number of other mentally-stimulating activities) have been shown to prevent alzheimer's.
The basic thinking is that Alzheimer's occurs due to a lack of engagement in certain areas of your brain, and activities like crosswords can stimulate those areas to prevent the disease.
Simple, but effective.
If you’re someone who has a family history of Alzheimer's, it’s worth adding crossword puzzles to your preventive regimen - just know it’s not a magic solution for preventing or curing alzheimer's. If it was, doctors would be prescribing crossword puzzles at this point!
Do crosswords help with memory?
Unfortunately, crosswords do not help with memory.
Memory is a relatively unique skill for humans - it has to do with taking in information and being able to recall it without putting any thought into it. Usually, you would practice memory with a game where you’re first made to take in information, then spit that information out at a later time. You don’t do any of that with a crossword puzzle.
A good example of a game that does help with memory is a picture-matching game, such as the one on FunBrain. It’s not as challenging as an advanced crossword puzzle is, but it will help you improve your memory - that much is for sure.
What crosswords do help with
There must be something crosswords help with, right?
Surely something so difficult can’t have no positive benefits?
Rest assured that there are plenty of benefits associated with completing puzzles - just maybe not the ones you thought.
For starters, your vocabulary will expand exponentially. In our daily lives, we’re not forced to step outside of our vocabulary comfort zone (which is around 5,000 words for most people) - going on the internet, sending emails, etc. usually does not call for obscure, descriptive words. On the other hand, those obscure, descriptive words are all that’s inside of a crossword puzzle - if you do a crossword puzzle every day, you’re genuinely doing something to make yourself gradually smarter without even trying.
Aside from the vocabulary improvement, you’ll receive five other key benefits - you can view them by reading our breakdown on this page.
Crosswords, Alzheimer’s, and Memory: Summary
Crosswords are fun, challenging, and many more descriptive words - but they don’t directly help prevent or cure alzheimer’s
They do indirectly help to prevent Alzheimer’s by stimulating the brain (just as other brain teasers do)
Crossword puzzles don’t help with memory, but they do carry a wide range of other benefits, explained here
Click the link directly above to learn more about crossword puzzles and your health. Good luck!