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New 'puzzle' brings back memories for Alzheimer's patients


A student has designed a jigsaw puzzle for people living with Alzheimer’s disease, featuring a combination of large pieces and images intended to suit older people.

Ben Atkinson-Willes, 22, a design student at Kingston University, came up with the idea after his grandfather developed the condition.

‘One thing my grandad loves doing is puzzles, but the products with fewer pieces were generally designed for very young children. I wanted to create something that would suit his need and respect his age.’

Mr Atkinson-Willes trialled potential images, which include a Spitfire aircraft (pictured), train, dog and family at the beach, during research in care homes around Surrey. 

‘I started with more than 70 images, but the eight I have chosen were not only popular, but even prompted memories for some of the adults completing them,’ he said. 

‘One resident, who hadn’t spoken all day during our testing, began talking when he completed the puzzle - with a picture of a Spitfire - about his time in the war,’ said Mr Atkinson-Willes. 


Readers' comments (4)

  • So simple yet ground breaking.

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  • I am really pleased to hear about this. I have been looking for jigsaw puzzles that would suit elderly people, with large enough pieces for those with poor eyesight, but without images aimed at children. I have been unable to find anything suitable. Are these puzzles available to purchase anywhere? Well done Ben and thank you.

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  • This is a good way to encourage the older person to communicate.

    As a carer of older relatives I would be happy to purchase such puzzles.

    Ben has put a lot of thought into this project and wish him success.

    Other areas such as a pictures album from bygone days can be a stimulant to the memory also music which I have been looking into.

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  • Not that I wish to discourage this work in any way, we have been making large piece puzzles, laser cut in wood for durability, for over 25 years. We have worked with PCT, care homes, the stroke association, Arthritis society and more recently Dyslexia and Dementia. We offer a "one-off" service so a picture with meaning for the client, maybe a family photograph, home, pet etc can be used to stimulate memory and conversation.
    More details of our special needs puzzles can be found on or by phoning 01865 820206

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