Crossword puzzles outperform socializing in dementia prevention

Originally published at: Crossword puzzles outperform socializing in dementia prevention | Boing Boing


While I am aware that anecdotes are not data… my father did at least 2 crossword puzzles a day for 40 years, and still succumbed to subcortical dementia 4 years ago at 81. Nothing’s foolproof*.

*(pun unintended).


I don’t think the study was suggesting that this was ‘foolproof’. It was suggesting that the risk was diminished and ~10% feels like a decent factor.

(This feels a bit like the people who argue that the Covid vaccine was a waste of time because it doesn’t stop you from catching Covid. But please don’t think that I am trying to score a personal point here.)


No, I don’t believe any worthy study would.
And I trusted that I employed enough caveats to imply the exact same point already, but thanks so much for equating me to an anti-vaxxer. No, no “personal points” there at all. WTF?

1 Like

My mom has worked as a social worker in the field of elder abuse and neglect her whole career, and now does healthcare training for seniors (Tai Chi, basic exercise, etc). She has done Sudoku and similar brain puzzles for this very reason for the past few decades. So far so good.

I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how hard that must be. I wish there was a “foolproof” way to avoid it. :heart:


I started doing the NYT Crossword every day about 2 years ago. At first, I really struggled on the Wednesday through Sunday puzzles (the easiest puzzle is Monday and they get progressively more difficult through Saturday…Sunday is easier than Saturday but it’s a much bigger puzzle), and now I only struggle on Saturday’s occasionally. Doing the puzzle has become a part of my daily routine, and I don’t know if it will stave off dementia, but I’m encouraged by the fact that I’ve improved on them at my age.


I wonder if anyone has done a similar study looking at video games. I imagine it would vary considerably depending on the type of game, but has my learning a smidgeon of rocket science playing Kerbal Space Program lessened my chances of dementia? What about open world rpgs?

No idea, but as a 58 year old woman, these data are relevant to my interests.


Also, for anyone who wants to do some crossword puzzles and do some greater good, These Puzzles Fund Abortion. Those are some great, and fun, puzzles to solve. And they’re for a good cause.


We do either the wsj or NYT, most days. She is music, I am science, and we both know fuck all about sports.


Ok, one last comment, and I’m done for now. There is also a crossword puzzle community, and it’s pretty cool. There are tournaments, both live and online, Twitch streamers, podcasts, Discord servers, YouTube channels, you name it. So it is possible to both solve crossword puzzles and socialize.


I’m the same age, and have been a test subject in research along these lines.

Link to research, testing and memory games:


Please explain to me if I were…elderly. How do they know that the phenomenon is “crosswords delays dementia” and not “dementia/forgetfulness prevents doing crosswords”?


or , people who are less prone to dementia also tend to be fond of crosswords or creative activities ? still , what can it hurt , eh ?


… who needs all that anyway

It’s the cruel-est disease I’ve seen. TYSM for your kind words; they bleach out the clod’s who preceded you. More power to your Mom!

1 Like

This is very good news for my parents who never socialize but do multiple crosswords a day. That’s plus the other word puzzles they do. I’d certainly prefer to have them continue to challenge (and beat) me at the Saturday/Sunday NYT puzzle whenever I come over* than have to help them through dementia.

*my mom prints out 3 copies of the puzzle once I’ve had my morning coffee and it is always done as a competition between us.


Woo hoo! Re-upping my NYT sub, and then…


This is the problem with text only forums. You thought you’d put sufficient caveats, but I clearly didn’t recognise them or I wouldn’t have made such a comment. Likewise, my contribution in response had exactly the same problem - I said I wasn’t making a personal point but you still took it that way; I apologise for implying that.

(I mean, this is the core problem with all of our social media atm; text comments that are distilled down to the smallest space inherently produce misunderstandings. Much of it is completely innocent - like our exchange here - but the deliberate trollies exploit that to, alas, great effect. And again, I am well aware that we all know this already. I am genuinely unsure if there is any viable solution to this.)


Not really: if you weren’t making a “personal point”, then there was absolutely no basis for your comment in the first place. I’m done here, thx.

I don’t understand. I said I wasn’t making a personal point; I then apologised if you thought I was making a personal point because I hadn’t made myself clear. I then made a specific comment about misunderstandings and how easy they were, and that this felt like a good example of that on both sides.
And you are still insisting that this was a personal point and not a misunderstanding? I’m not sure what else I could do?