Games for People With Alzheimer’s
Good for the brain – and they are fun!
Games for people with Alzheimer’s can be low-tech, high-tech, or anything in between. Every care community in the world probably has a Bingo game, yet that’s about as low tech as you can get. However, clinical trials indicate Bingo improves memory and cognition when people with dementia including Alzheimer’s play.
Bingo is an ideal game for many people with dementia. People of all ages enjoy playing it every day, so it certainly is age-appropriate. Bingo is easy to understand and play, so it is stage-specific for anyone except those in the very last stages of the disease. The familiar game requires that the person distinguish letters and numbers. Some Bingo variations require matching colors and shapes. Others might require one to recognize animals. Regardless of the scheme, Bingo stimulates the brain. That is why the study above found playing the game improved cognitive functioning.
Games for Alzheimer’s should be played for stimulation. Downplay the competitive aspect of gaming if your group requires that. Furthermore, Bingo is not just a game for large groups. Small groups of two or three, or even one (with a caregiver) will enjoy playing. Whenever possible and whatever the game, have children play with the older adults. Both age groups enjoy the stimulation and the social interaction.
At the other extreme…
a computer based game called Smartbrain was shown to positively affect brain function in people with Alzheimer’s in an adult day facility in Spain. As reported in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, the game improved cognition in a group of elderly people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Smartbrain provides stimulation to cognitive facilities like attention and memory.
Surprisingly, it seems that even the diseased brain retains the ability to make new neurological connections. Since a computer game can be programmed to work on the needs and at the level of the person playing it, this technology holds some promise in the field of dementia care.
Moreover, the researchers found that, when used in addition to the facility’s regular program, the game “greatly augmented the traditional psychomotor stimulation….” When both treatments were used together the cognitive benefit was extended to 24 weeks.”
Posit Science makes a product similar to the Smartbrain used in the study. Called Brain Fitness, it is being used successfully by several residential facilities in the U.S. to keep brains younger. And Nintendo has gotten into the game with a product called Brain Age. Though originally intended to improve the working of healthy brains, these products are proving to be effective therapy for people with dementia.
Like everything computer, electronic games will not totally replace more conventional ones, but should be considered as an important addition to an activity program whenever possible.
Selecting Games for People with Alzheimer’s
Recommended games for people with Alzheimers
No Rules Just Ways to Play
PicLink consists of 36 tiles and instructions with a variety of fun ways to play. An added challenge is to invent your own ways to play.
Designed specifically to benefit people with cognitive and memory impairment. As a matter of fact, the game variations are all based upon exercises that research has shown improves brain connections and enhances memory. For these reasons and more, PicLink is a wonderful game for younger people as well.
- Reinforces the memory process
- Encourages social and conversational interaction
- As a group activity promotes fellowship among seniors and between care-partners
- Creates new and strengthens old links to memories and inspires reminiscing
Arouses creativity through story telling
Good Smelly Fun
This Fragrance Bingo is a most original game!
Follow Your Nose encourages exploration and discovery through the player’s sense of smell. Included are 30 distinct aroma diffusers in tamper-resistant flasks which players match to the corresponding image found on five brightly illustrated game boards.
What we always liked about Follow Your Nose is that it involves the sense of smell. And it’s a game! It is difficult to create an activity that stimulates both the olfactory sense and cognition at the same time that it elicits memories. So you can see why we are so excited.
Good Smelly Fun
It is obvious that this is a children’s game, but the presentation is bright and cheery! You might not, at first, think it is an appropriate game for Alzheimer’s patients, but we have had some good feedback. Some adults might object, as it is not, strictly speaking, an age-appropriate game for people with Alzheimer’s. On the other hand, even if great grandma won’t play this with other adults, she will likely enjoy playing with the kids, or with the whole family.
Connect the past to the present with these games.
Five “Shake Loose…” games are not only fun to play but can be a part of a comprehensive reminiscence therapy program. Developed by specialists in the field of gerontology and recreation, each easy to play game contains questions that will unlock memories as it provides hours of fun and social interaction.
The games asks questions like, “Did your grandfather smoke, or did he dislike smoking?” Questions to stimulate discussion as well as memories.
Games for People With Alzheimer’s
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WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
- We see smiles and feel relieved that, even though we can’t make her well, we can make her comfortable and content without resorting to brain fogging drugs or, worse, restraints. Carla