Jigsaw Puzzles, Penguin Madness, and Fun

Photo of a bunch of penguins
© Mint Images, elements.envato.com

By EDWARD A JOSPH

(SENIOR WIRE) If you’re interested in low-cost fun, improving your short-term memory, and want to hate penguins for the rest of your life, then jigsaw puzzles are for you.

I started doing jigsaw puzzles shortly after I retired, but really got into them as a stress reliever when my spouse had to be away from home for long periods of time to take care of her nonagenarian mother.

The first puzzle I did was of a dolphin, and it was actually in the shape of a dolphin. I’ve done a 100-piece puzzle, and once I tried a 1000 pieces, but had to stop because it was too big for my puzzle caddy—more about puzzle caddies later.

For those entering the world of jigsaw puzzles, I would recommend starting with a 500-piece puzzle. To me they are the right balance between solvability and engagement. My favorite brand is Springbok because of the tremendous variety of puzzles to choose from and the sturdiness of the pieces.

I do jigsaw puzzles because I find them relaxing and fun. But research has shown that doing them can actually improve short-term memory, as well as visual-spatial reasoning.

However, a warning here: Stay away from puzzles that picture penguins or you could lose your short-term memory, your long-term memory, and your ability to reason at all.

A puzzle entitled the “Penguin Plunge” with many, many penguins on an ice flow, either jumping into the water, or getting ready to jump, caught my eye as I was searching online for my next puzzle. The thing is, penguins all look alike. I mean they really do. I knew I was in trouble when I caught myself walking around the house using foul language about penguins and questioning their value in the cosmos.

After almost plunging into madness, I did finish “Penguin Plunge,” but I now have a nervous tic, which gets worse whenever I see pictures of penguins.

Getting back to puzzle caddies. I wouldn’t necessarily buy one right away. Do a couple puzzles to see if you enjoy doing them, but if you do, a puzzle caddy is the way to go. The reason for this is that doing a jigsaw puzzle takes a great deal of time and space. It’s extremely convenient in the middle of doing one to pack it up safely without moving or losing pieces and get it off a table for a birthday celebration.

My puzzle caddy has a surface that makes it easier to keep the pieces in place, two removable side panels, which are extremely convenient for sorting pieces, and best of all, it takes about two minutes to fold up with the completed part and sorted pieces safely in place. You can buy a good one for about $70, although the fancier ones can cost over $150, and a 500-piece puzzle will cost in the $14 to $18 range.

The above costs may seem high, but when you factor in all the hours of pleasure in doing them, jigsaw puzzles are an entertainment bargain.

And I’ve saved the best for last: Studies have shown that people who do jigsaw puzzles on a regular basis have longer life spans and fewer cases of Alzheimer’s disease. So, other than the danger of penguin madness, what’s not to like about doing jigsaw puzzles? MSN