Sudoku - Mental Stimulation for the Elderly

What is Sudoku?

Sudoku is a number mind game that can be played online or in a puzzle book, offering mental stimulation to all ages. It's beneficial for seniors. Why? Because it requires focus, attention, math and reasoning skills. As we age, we must continually challenge and stimulate our brains in order to encourage brain cell regeneration, development and growth. Keeping neural pathways open is especially beneficial for mostly sedentary seniors.


This game was created by a puzzle company in Japan in the late 1980s, but became prevalent in American society around 2005. In Japanese, Sudoku means "single number".

This is a square puzzle separated into grids. Nine separate sections of a puzzle, each containing nine additional squares create the puzzle surface. A variety of numbers is already inserted into multiple squares throughout the grid.

There are a number of variations to Sudoku, including Mini-Sudoku, Cross-Sums, and Killer. Each offers a variety of difficulty for puzzle solvers. The rules of the game are to fill each of the empty grids with numerals from one to nine.

Each row, column, and section or nonet (the 3x3 grid found 9 times within the puzzle) may only contain one use of the numerals one through nine.

The sum of all the numbers in a grouping of cells must match one of the small numbers printed in the corner of each of the cage or cell grouping or grid. No numbers can be used more than once within these groupings.

While the game may seem confusing to beginners at first, you'll quickly catch on and be enthralled with the potential of it to provide hours of stimulating mental enjoyment, laughs, and focus.

Caregivers can print off one puzzle for a group of seniors to work on together, or individually. The possibilities regarding games, contests, or solitary entertainment are only limited by your imagination.

Online and Offline Fun

Puzzles are available online, or found in printed books, the same as you find crossword puzzle books and word search puzzle books at your local drugstore or bookstore. These are generally located in the magazine section. To find puzzles online, simply type "sudoku" into your browser's search bar. You'll likely find both free as well as puzzle website subscription options for access to dozens or hundreds of puzzles in a variety of difficulty levels.

Start with websites such as Websudoku or Bin-co or Sudoku9X9 or access puzzle sites such as Sudoku Kingdom or Funbrain. There are plenty of sites found online that offer free puzzles in a variety of difficulty levels that will best suit the mental reasoning skills and attention or patience level of your loved one.

Start with the easier puzzles first, or those that include more numbers than empty spaces in the puzzle grid. If you're a caregiver, learn how to play the game comfortably before attempting to show it to your elderly loved one.

Attempting too difficult of a puzzle at first may cause impatience and frustration for your loved one, so take your time, be patient, and solve puzzles together to start. Better yet, you work with the puzzle and offer clues or suggestions to the senior. Ask them to think of numbers that might help you achieve the goal and solving the puzzle. In this way, you'll gradually expose the senior to the new mental activity as well as increase their concentration, focus, and attention to detail.

Remember - Always cater puzzle difficulty to the capabilities of the senior to avoid agitating or frustrating them.


Whenever possible, encourage mental stimulation and activity with your loved ones, whether it's playing online or printed games, engaging in crossword puzzles, or word search or other mind activity brainteasers or brain challenging games. In order to maintain mental acuity, sharpness, focus and interaction, you've got to stimulate the brain. Help your loved ones maintain their attention span and focus by encouraging such games for a fun way to do just that.

Sudoku to Elderly Activities

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