Games are a great way to socialize with other people. Games also stimulate the mind. This kind of exercise is ideal for people with dementia as some research has shown it can slow the deterioration of cognitive abilities. Below are five types of games that are especially well suited for loved ones with dementia.
1) Card Games
One of the best things about card games is that people with dementia may already be familiar with how to play the game. This eliminates the stressors of trying to teach them something new. One place to start is a more simple version of War in which each player turns over one card, and whoever has the highest card wins, taking the other cards. When you reach the end of the deck, whoever has the most cards is the champ. Dementia sufferers may also enjoy simply sorting the cards, whether it’s according to suit, color, value, etc. A game like “Uno” could be great for practicing colors and numbers.
Similar to card games, bingo is another familiar activity that triggers long-term memory, making it one of the more stimulating brain games for dementia. It is best to at least start with simplified bingo boards containing less numbers, with the numbers printed larger, making them easier to locate. You can either purchase appropriate boards or make them yourself. Another option would be to have a board designed for younger children that relies more on pictures than letters or numbers. This can be less confusing and more familiar.
3) Visual Games
Games that utilize pictures are another effective form of brain games for dementia, engaging sufferers and encouraging them to reminisce. Try printing out photos of items from the past that may have meaning for those playing—photos of old card, buildings, movie stars, etc.—then place them on a table. Call out which photo you want the other players to find; or in an alternate version, print out two copies of each photo, have your loved one match the pair together, and then have them describe the contents of the images. Another picture game that can help strengthen cognitive abilities is “Memory”.
4) Word Puzzles
Recalling words can be a challenge for people with dementia. Word games are a great way to have fun and keep their minds sharp. For a challenging but fun word game, have your loved one try and complete common phrases they may be able to recall, like “An apple a day keeps the [blank] away,” or “April showers, bring May [blank].” You can also play a simplified trivia game, where you ask your loved one to name common objects, after giving them hints. For example, have them try to answer “frying pan,” after telling them about a round, metal object with a handle, used to cook food.
5) Video Games
Video games are becoming increasingly popular with seniors, even though many didn’t play them in their younger years. For dementia sufferers, the more complicated video games may be too much to learn and master, but the more basic titles—especially puzzle games like Tetris—can be a more stimulating alternative to watching TV. The process of learning and mastering these games can offer your loved one a great feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
It is always great to blend fun with helpful activities to keep the mind going. Orchard at Brookhaven strives to nurture every aspect of our residents. If you are looking for a place that can care for your loved one, please contact us today. We would love to speak with you about all that we have to offer.