This post is quite personal for me because I lost my grandfather last year, and up to a few days before he died he was still working on a New York Times Crossword Puzzle. He could no longer write, therefore, I read him the clues, he gave me the answers. Everyday he bought three newspapers, the New York Times, The Daily News, and the New York Post (a true New Yorker). Honestly, I'm not sure how much he actually read the papers because I always saw him with his crossword puzzle open and a pencil in his hand.
Many studies list the numerous benefits of solving crossword puzzles, most specifically reducing the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's or other forms of Dementia. The conclusions of the studies are quite common, improved memory, concentration skills, and learning new words.
What they forget to focus on is the similarity between meditation and crosswords; removing you from the present world. It is not as simple as relaxation, but also a way to reduce anxiety. My grandfather had an interesting life. He left his homeland of Jamaica as a captain in the army to become a security guard; ensuring his children were able to achieve the American dream. Crosswords were a way for him to escape from the present. Rohit Madaan said it very well in his blog, "You can easily get lost in the beautiful world of crosswords and forget about all your real-life problems."
Clients at our adult day care, suffering from Dementia, who are cognizant of their decline, are consistently trying to return to the world they once knew; the person they knew. We deflect their angst with puzzles. Even if it is just for a day, an hour, a minute; we strive to relieve the pressure.