Do you want to engage a person with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia with meaningful mind stimulating activities? Do you have a limited budget? Here are ideas that use ordinary playing cards
Before you begin to design or use an activity with persons with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia, it is of the utmost importance that you know their likes and dislikes. You should know their strengths and weaknesses. Also helpful is knowledge of the persons' past life and experiences.
Here are several activities that can be done independently or in small groups with most, early to mid-stage, dementia folks
These activities use a deck of playing cards and are especially good for persons who love numbers, have worked with numbers, relate to numbers, like to play cards, or have played cards in the past.
SORTING the cards: by suit, odd and even numbers, by colors or any original way that might be thought of A lower functioning dementia person might enjoy counting a group of cards. Somehow just touching and looking at the cards bring back pleasant memories
MATCHING-you will need two decks of cards
Give the dementia person a number of playing cards(more for those with early dementia. Two cards for those with significant memory challenges)
Then show him a card. See if he can pick the matching card.
You can see if (s)he can match a sequence of cards.
Here is another game needing two decks of cards. You will need several people playing to have the most fun. Pass out four cards(more for those with early dementia, less for those with significant memory challenges) to each person playing. Keep the cards face up Pick a card from the second deck. Whoever has that card, will turn the card face down. The first person to turn all their cards over is the winner. You can also play a community game where there is no winner.
PICKING a number(s) of the day or week-Start small-pick only one number. Relate the number to something significant-for example if 2 is picked say: We can remember 2 because we have 2 eyes, arms etc.
Then when asking them to recall the number periodically throughout the day, say: It is the number of eyes you have.
Some may remember the number without the cue. Some may not remember the number but know that a person has 2 eyes.
Either way connections are being made in the brain to replace the ones that have been lost.
PLAY SIMPLE CARD GAMES
Here are a few suggestions
War, Crazy eights, Old Maid (take 3 of the queens out of the deck), Go Fish, Twenty-one, or make up a game.
This is the perfect opportunity to get children involved. Dementia folks love children.
However, the children should be educated about dementia.
No matter what games you play or exercises you do, remember to put a positive spin on everything. Have meaningful dialog throughout the sessions. Conversation is extremely important for the memory challenged person. Also place the emphasis on fun.
Many books have been written about preventing Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. They strongly suggest keeping the mind active. If a person already has memory challenges it is equally if not more important that (s)he keep (her)his active.
Using a deck of cards is an easy way to help the minds, of those with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia, stimulated.
Doing this will slow the mental decline associated with the disease process.
Author, Susan Berg has been a healthcare professional and educator for over 20 years. She is the, activity director, of many years, at Hunt Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Danvers. While there, she has gained much dementia care and activity experience and knowledge. She has had special training in dementia care and dementia activities through the Alzheimer's Association and other educational forums. Berg is the author of Adorable Photographs of Our Baby-Meaningful, Mind-Stimulating Activities and More for the Memory Challenged, Their Loved Ones, and Involved Professionals, a book for those with dementia and an excellent resource for caregivers and healthcare professionals.