GAMES AND ACTIVITIES FOR PATIENTS WITH DEMENTIA
Finding brain-stimulating and entertaining activities can be challenging if you are a caregiver or have a family member with dementia. However, research has revealed that engaging in games and other enjoyable activities is a novel form of therapy that can support current dementia treatments.
Playing games is one of the many things that can occupy and entertain the human mind. Interestingly, playing games can keep our minds active. This is crucial for older adults, especially those at risk for dementia.
The brain can be effectively exercised by playing games and participating in a variety of activities, which has many advantages for older people with dementia, such as:
1. Prevents The Early Onset Of Memory Loss.
Memory loss and other cognitive declines can be delayed by keeping seniors engaged in games and activities. In addition, since there are currently no medications available to treat dementia, there is growing interest in modifying one's lifestyle to slow down the brain aging process, which is associated with memory and thinking issues.
The prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, two parts of the brain that are affected in the early stages of dementia, can be stimulated by playing games that emphasize memory and cognitive associations.
2. Establishes A Sense Of Structure And Normalcy.
Creating a routine is essential for someone living with dementia. People who have dementia may grow increasingly frustrated as their cognitive abilities slowly deteriorate. Behavioral issues such as restlessness, agitation, and in some cases, even aggression may result from this.
Routines can give the elderly a feeling of familiarity and security by designating a specific time of day for play and other common daily activities. The structure also provides them with much-needed stability when feeling lost or confused.
Do keep in mind, though, that these routines are not required to be rigid. Prioritize consistency over strictness.
3. A Crucial Platform For Interaction And Socialization.
Seniors can maintain their mental acuity as they go through this critical transition in their lives by regularly socializing with peers and engaging in stimulating activities. Unfortunately, loneliness and social isolation are common among people with dementia.
Playing games with friends fosters social interaction, which improves a person's sense of community while alleviating feelings of loneliness. Whether they have dementia or not, interacting with peers can boost an elderly individual's sense of self-worth and general quality of life.
A 2019 study examined the impact of computerized cognitive training in improving mild cognitive impairment in areas such as memory, reasoning, attention, and language. According to the study's findings, the training increased the brain's gray matter volume and may help maintain general cognition.
Another research published in the same year that included older adults explored the effects of 16 weeks of simultaneous physical and cognitive "exergame" training. The executive function and working memory significantly improved, according to the researchers.
A paper that evaluated several studies looked into the use of games in dementia care. The reviewers looked at three different game genres and their advantages. Playing board games can improve cognitive abilities such as memory, communication, and emotional control.
Likewise, virtual reality games can reinforce physical and cognitive skills, depending on the type. Video games can be specifically designed to target various cognitive functions like memory and reasoning.
The review found that patients with dementia in the early and middle stages who played certain types of games were able to enhance a variety of cognitive functions, including problem-solving, quick reactions, logical thinking, short-term memory, and communication.
For older adults with diseases that cause dementia, such as Alzheimer's, routine tasks can become too demanding. But like the rest of us, they still desire success, which the following games and activities can accomplish.
Here are some games that, particularly for those with dementia, may enhance a wide range of cognitive abilities:
Puzzles are a fantastic way to keep the mind active at any stage of dementia. It offers mental stimulation more reflectively than intensely competitive games. In addition, most puzzles don't have time limits so that older people can work through the activity at their own pace.
It is essential to consider individual abilities and any physical or cognitive challenges when selecting a puzzle.
According to research, individuals who suffer from certain types of cognitive disorders, such as dementia, may see a decline in their ability to calculate and work with numbers. Dice games can be used to hone these abilities.
In many dice games, luck plays an important role. The majority relies on a chance roll of the dice. As a result, games like Yahtzee and Bar dice become more enjoyable and competitive.
Some other dice games that could help are Kismet, Backgammon, Shut the box, and Liar's dice.
Although the intricate nature of a chess game may intimidate some, it is actually a powerful brain-builder that anyone, including seniors, can play. Chess strengthens cognitive abilities and encourages creative thinking because it is all about strategy and planning. Additionally, it has the added advantage of improving the ability to focus in seniors.
Playing checkers is another option if you are looking for something more straightforward. Everyone of any age can play the game because it is easy to learn. Invite the grandchildren to participate as well. For adults with dementia, this game offers a beneficial hand and fine motor skill exercises as well as enjoyable social interaction.
The versatility of card games is one of their greatest appeals. There are numerous variations of games that people with dementia can enjoy playing in a group. All you need is a deck of cards. Examples include Snap, Solitaire, and Go Fish.
It is crucial to take into account the difficulties someone with dementia might encounter before selecting a card game. For example, avoid complex card games like poker that require an element of deception.
Elderly patients can easily understand the rules of Dominoes because of their simplicity and the tiles' distinctive black-and-white design. Additionally, the tile sizes make it simple to hold and move around the table.
Even though the game is straightforward, the challenge of using colors and numbers encourages seniors to use their critical thinking and reasoning abilities.
The best aspect of trivia games is their adaptability; there are many different categories to choose from, and they can be played with a small or substantial group of players. Movies, music, history, geography, sports, and even literature are all possible trivia topics.
When asked a question, playing trivia games can help dementia patients recall past historical events, elements of popular culture from their youth, well-known movies, and celebrities, and exercise their brains.
Your senior's acting skills will be put to the test in the hilarious game of charades. It typically involves two teams and encourages friendly competition, which the elderly may find enjoyable.
Participants will be given a card containing a specific word and will be required to act it out without using any sounds, props, or cues. It can improve a person's social skills in addition to being a good brain exercise. Eliminating the time limit to give players more leeway is one way to change the game to be more inclusive for elderly people with dementia.
Sudoku is a favorite pastime among seniors because it is a fun and mentally challenging activity that uses brain regions that aren't always used in daily activities. In addition, seniors are actively taught to use both abstract reasoning and pattern recognition to solve the puzzles. Sudoku has numerous cognitive advantages and makes a person feel accomplished, which is particularly important for dementia patients.
Bingo is one of the most popular and welcoming games for the elderly that offers chances for interaction with other seniors. Participating in social activities like bingo can benefit senior citizens who are lonely or depressed.
The game has advantages beyond just being social. For example, bingo improves one's alertness and responsiveness because the game calls for a certain level of hand-eye coordination.
Below are some failure-free activities for people with dementia:
A rummage or memory box can give the elderly a sense of continuity with their previous interest and occupation. Get any kind of box and put things they would have used at work, unimportant keepsakes, copies of their photos, or items from their hobbies.
Include in the box things like paper clips, erasers, pencils, junk mail, paper, a calculator, file folders, notepads, etc. This creates a box that serves as a reminder of their career for them.
If the person used to be hands-on around the house, include fine grit sandpaper, twine, nuts, bolts, pieces of fittings for PVC pipes, or a piece of wood free of splinters in their box. A whisk, measuring spoons, a spatula, and other kitchen tools might resonate with those who enjoyed baking or cooking.
Get a box, and fill it with various kinds of fabric pieces. Folding, handling, and organizing the cloth pieces and fabrics can be an enjoyable pastime.
Most elders enjoy this activity, especially those who used to like fabric crafts or sewing. Remember to buy items with a range of textures and hues, such as silk, lace, velvet, felt, cotton, wool, etc.
Asking older adults to help you fold your laundry will keep them engaged. This activity can make them feel successful and provide them with a sense of contribution to the home.
Hand towels work best because they are simple to fold and compact. Keeping your adult happily engaged and making them feel satisfied is the motive behind this. So it does not matter how neatly or sloppily the towels are folded.
Grab some regular string or thick yarn and dried pasta with large holes. Now, join the string's ends with tape to make it longer than the pieces of pasta. This creates a "needle" for your elderly to work with. Let them use the "needle" and "thread" to string the pasta.
The act of cutting out their favorite images from calendars or vintage magazines may be enjoyed by older people. It is excellent to use magazines that reflect their interests or hobbies. The photos could also be pasted into a notebook.
Make a printout of your older adult's favorite scenic location or a family photo. You might also print out an image or a picture they like, such as a fruit with bright colors, a car, etc.
Custom photo puzzles can also serve as a catalyst for nostalgia and to reawaken old memories. To create a unique DIY puzzle, you can laminate the photo and cut it into multiple pieces to resemble puzzle pieces.
Purchase a rope with a medium thickness at the neighborhood hardware store. Ask your older adult to help you in untying a few loose knots that you have tied.
Naturally, as we get older, our bodies will start to deteriorate slowly. However, seniors can maintain active lifestyles and age gracefully by engaging in physical activities and exercises that are appropriate for them.
Gardening is an excellent way to get some light exercise outside. The activity level can be adjusted to fit a person's capabilities. It can be something simple like pruning and weeding, or slightly more challenging like mowing or raking.
It is a fantastic way to exercise and get your recommended daily intake of vitamin D, which also makes you feel accomplished once you see the results of your labor.
The parachute game is a popular game that is played in most nursing homes and facilities for the elderly. Each individual would need to grab a handle and wave the parachute in a small circle. The goal is to prevent the ball from dropping after it is thrown into the parachute.
With the help of this game, seniors can practice their arm movements and improve their upper-body mobility. In addition, the parachute game promotes interaction and teamwork because it is a group activity.
Dancing can be a fun and healthy physical activity for older adults who are still active and want to have a little more fun. Dancing enhances physical health, while also serving as a therapeutic hobby that promotes relaxation and social interaction.
Additionally, it tests your memory as you try to remember the routine while learning new steps and moving to the beat of the music, making it a mental and physical activity that can help dementia patients.
Looking for something you can do anywhere that is completely free? Walking fits the bill. Seniors, regardless of their ages and fitness levels, can benefit from simple yet effective walking exercises. The length of time and distance covered during a group walk can be changed to suit the needs of each person.
With the aid of transportable devices like walkers or wheelchairs, your elderly loved one can still benefit from being outside even if they are physically unable to do so or have trouble moving around.
Many cognitive abilities, such as memory and reasoning, deteriorate when a person has dementia. However, recent research shows the possibility of using gaming to enhance these cognitive abilities, particularly in dementia patients.
Seniors with dementia can keep their brains strong and healthy while having hours of fun by playing the games that are most appropriate for their needs. As a caregiver or a family member, you can use these games and activities to stimulate the mind and senses of a person with dementia.
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- Zhang, Haifeng et al. “Computerized multi-domain cognitive training reduces brain atrophy in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment.” Translational psychiatry vol. 9,1 48. 31 Jan. 2019, doi:10.1038/s41398-019-0385-x
- Adcock, Manuela et al. “Effects of an In-home Multicomponent Exergame Training on Physical Functions, Cognition, and Brain Volume of Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Frontiers in medicine vol. 6 321. 28 Jan. 2020, doi:10.3389/fmed.2019.00321
- Ning, Huansheng et al. “A Review on Serious Games for Dementia Care in Ageing Societies.” IEEE journal of translational engineering in health and medicine vol. 8 1400411. 28 May. 2020, doi:10.1109/JTEHM.2020.2998055
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