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Try This Great Activity That Can Help Alzheimer’s and Dementia

written by Skye Sherman - Feb 20, 2023
medically reviewed by Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Oct 10, 2023

Photo Credit: by @ironfanyu,
Photo Credit: by @ironfanyu,

Preventing Alzheimer’s isn’t all fun and games… but it doesn’t have to be boring! There are many entertaining activities you can do to help exercise your brain. Did you know that your brain needs exercise just like the rest of your body? Getting physical activity every day is a necessary part of life, but it’s just as important to keep your mental faculties sharp, too.

You may have played with Legos or a similar toy as a kid. It’s time to return to that childhood fun now, because playing with Legos might actually be able to help people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, or even people who are potentially at risk of developing these heartbreaking diseases.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are marked by gradual or rapid mental decline and they are both heartbreaking illnesses to deal with or watch a loved one suffer through. Playing with Legos might be just the lighthearted activity you need to help ward off these issues and incorporate more fun into your everyday life. It’s also a great way to enjoy quality time with loved ones, especially elderly members of your family.

Read on to learn more about how Legos might be able to help with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

What is Lego therapy?

Lego therapy is a type of therapy that is being incorporated into programs where people are suffering from mental issues of varying types. It can help anyone from young to old, and with all kinds of mental abilities or disabilities.

According to Lifted, “[Lego therapy] is a structured way of using the popular building bricks to construct something. Participants work together in groups of three, each is given a well-defined role:

● The engineer – reads the instructions then gives verbal instructions to the other team members – and makes sure they are followed.

● The supplier – follows instructions from the engineer to find the right size, shape and color of brick needed.

● The builder – puts the bricks together.

Roles are rotated in the hour-long session – everyone gets 20 minutes each in each role.”

An article in Positive Psychology reports, “Lego Therapy is a powerful intervention designed to support children with ASD and communication challenges in developing skills in language and collaboration. Once considered a mere toy, this world-famous construction system is now also being used by adults to overcome stress, pointing to the power of the humble Lego brick as a transformative tool for healing.”

Any tool that helps people to connect and collaborate with each other when they normally struggle to do so is a major game changer.

How Legos can help with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

Legos aren’t just for kids! Have you heard of AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego)? There are entire groups of adults who love playing with Legos and enjoy communing around this favorite hobby.

But Legos aren’t just for fun, hobbies, or entertainment. It might not seem like the obvious way to help prevent or provide relief from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, but believe it or not, these simple, colorful building bricks can be a helpful tool for those suffering from cognitive decline.

But even those with other mental disabilities can benefit from playing with Legos. According to Lifted, “Lego therapy is now a fairly well-established intervention for children and young people on the autism spectrum and with other related communication difficulties. The therapy involves children working in small groups of three, each taking on a specific role, with the aim of building something together.” It can help to teach cooperation, improve concentration and dexterity, and more.

One woman who works at an elderly care home reports, “[She] also began to understand just how many benefits Lego therapy could bring. She saw it encourage residents to socialize and chat, it improved their concentration, increased their motivation and creativity – and revived many happy memories. … She would love to see Lego therapy become a recognised and respected therapeutic activity for people with dementia.”

But how exactly does it help? An article on the Happy Neuron Blog states, “Using Legos also provides multiple forms of stimulation: visual, tactile, kinesthetic, and if used in a group setting – social. Sensory stimulation is important for adults with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia because sensory decline is part of both disorders and the stimulation serves to help maintain connections between sensory and other key brain regions as much as possible.”

The article also points out that while cognitive stimulation is important for all age groups, it is especially important for the elderly populations.

The article recommends to caregivers: “Using Legos as part of your cognitive therapy plan for your client’s with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can help your client practice important cognitive skills such as verbal fluency, attention, executive functioning, and visual spatial skills.”

As you can see, the potential benefits of playing with Legos are far-reaching and cover a wide range of cognitive abilities. Playing with Legos may not be able to prevent the use of Alzheimer’s medications like Aricept or Exelon, but if it can provide any sort of relief or soothe the symptoms even slightly, it’s worth a shot and can’t hurt to try. Always consult your doctor before starting any prescription medications.

Legos can also help with anxiety

Alzheimer’s and dementia isn’t the only thing that Legos may be able to help with. It’s actually a hack for practicing mindfulness and reducing overall stress levels. Legos may seem like a silly toy just for kids, but they can actually be a powerful tool for adults, too. Building a big Lego set can be incredibly relaxing and even meditative.

But that’s not all. According to an article published by MSN, Legos might also provide a healthy source of relief for those suffering from anxiety:

“The best part about building Lego sets as a grown-up is that it forces you to carve out quiet time. And, when you have had a stress-filled day or need to release building anxiety, time to relax and chill is the perfect remedy. Building Lego sets allows you to sit down and put all your mental energy into something other than your anxiety or problems.

It’s hard to be stressed and upset when you’re having fun putting together a Lego set! The sense of accomplishment you get at the end is also part of the fun. People also enjoy puzzles, crocheting and knitting, and other similar activities for a lot of the same reasons.

An article published by Well+Good points out, “Using Lego as an adult can be great to reduce stress and anxiety. When you’re focusing on creating something, you’re pointing your mind in the direction of what you’re creating. This doesn’t leave room for unwanted thoughts to penetrate your brain … Using hand-eye coordination keeps your brain in a meditative state and relaxes the uncontrollable overthinking, thus decreasing anxiety.”

The article also includes insight from Roseann Capanna-Hodge, a psychologist and integrative mental health expert. The doctor claims, “With so much going on in our lives, it’s easy to become more and more stressed and for our nervous system to get ‘stuck on,’ and that’s why mindfulness-based activities such as playing with Lego are not only fun, but an essential part of overall well being … Not only do these activities make us feel good, but they also improve brain functioning.”

Who knew that a set of Legos could be doing so much for our brains? You may find it surprising but it’s true! However, tools like Legos (and other mindful activities) only work if you incorporate them as a regular part of your daily or weekly routine. Working on a Lego set for a couple of hours once a year isn’t going to do as much for you as a regular Lego habit will.

The article also recommends, “To get the most bang for your blocks, experts recommend setting time aside for them every day.” Building a Lego set shouldn’t become a source of stress or another thing to check off your neverending list. Instead, it should be a relaxing activity that you look forward to at the end of each day.

End or begin each day with at least 20 minutes spent sitting and working on your Lego set. You might be surprised by all the benefits you receive from this simple activity that you might have thought was just for kids.

Why you should buy Legos now

Check out the latest offers from Legos to get the best deal you can. The company is always coming out with new products. Each set of Legos seems even more fun than the last! You can make almost anything out of Legos these days.

But they’re not just toys. Did you know that you can even make home décor out of Legos? Whether you want to make a flower bouquet for a loved one, a Christmas wreath to adorn your front door around the holidays, wall art, or shelf decorations. You could make gifts for people or decorate your home or office. They make Lego sets for adults and kids alike.

You can even make Lego versions of some of the world’s greatest works of art! There’s an endless amount of fun activities you can do when working with Legos. The best part is that when you’re done, you can either take them apart to construct again on a rainy day, or leave them complete to show them off to your friends and family.

No matter whether you’re young or old, it’s never a bad time to buy Legos and start playing.



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