7 Facts about Memory Activities

7 Facts about Memory Activities

for Alzheimer’s Patients

Memory Activities used in 2008 in Elder Care & Alzheimer’s, Dementia Care facilities were not meeting the needs of their patients. And, were the same activities my mother used 10 years earlier.

Unfortunately, in some cases, that is still true today.

1. Activities such as puzzles on the market being used for elderly with dementia did not meet elderly and stroke patients physical and mental needs.

Many puzzles being used today still do not meet both physical and mental needs.

2. When a puzzle had an adult theme many times it had too many small thin pieces.

Thin small puzzle pieces are difficult for elderly to pick up and put in place.

If you place a large puzzle with many pieces in front of your loved one with dementia, they won’t know where or how to begin.


Many become overwhelmed, frustrated and give up. Next time, THEY WON’T EVEN TRY.

3. If the puzzle had few, large pieces, most likely it had a young child’s theme.

Your Loved One does NOT enjoy putting children’s puzzles together. These puzzles make your mother, father or spouse feel, like a child.

Elderly patients are humiliated or embarrassed because they are working on child’s puzzle. Keep in mind they may have Alzheimer’s or Dementia but they still have feelings.

4. Age appropriate (adult) puzzles & games for Alzheimer’s, Dementia and elderly patients – were a huge problem for caregivers in homes and care centers because the puzzles and games were too difficult.

Simplified adult themed Puzzles and Activities for people with dementia and elderly were not available or they couldn’t find them, until 2008, when I developed Memory Jogging Puzzles.

Frustrated and aware of these problems, activity directors and caregivers were very open and helpful to me sharing the needs of their patients.

Many patients were experiencing FAILURE and FRUSTRATION.

Step in to their shoes!

Think about this, they are not any different than you & I. Ask yourself, if a task appears to difficult, what do you do?

Many of us glide away or perhaps fake it for a few moments and then forget, this is too hard.

Some of us take a peek… I’m out of here! Do you agree?

Expressing their feelings

I have heard the words “I don’t want to play anymore” when a puzzle or game is too difficult while working with residents.

If you have children or grandchildren, I’m sure you have heard and observed these scenes.

What’s different?

Children can and do express themselves.

If your mother, father or spouse with dementia does not want to participate, sometimes she or he is tagged “acting out”.

Many times they say nothing, walk away humiliated because they cannot do the activity or forgot how to do it.

If only we could walk in their shoes for a day.

5. Very few easy puzzles had age appropriate storytelling themes.

Storytelling themes were wanted and needed because they help caregivers and families engage their loved one in conversation.

Memory Activities, Memory Games; Brain Exercise & Memory Exercise

6. Today, very few puzzles and activities on the market meet BOTH physical & mental needs for Alzheimer’s, seniors with dementia and those in stroke recovery.

In other words many patients were not and are not benefiting from their activities. Most, unfortunately, are getting frustrated.

Puzzles with many pieces

For instance: It’s a puzzle with a storytelling theme but there are 40 pieces.

40 little tiny cardboard/chipboard pieces.

The only thing positive about this puzzle is the theme. Your loved one with dementia or disability could admire the theme, but most likely unable to complete it.

Could very possibly have a difficult time picking up the pieces and lucky to find the right spot.

They may appear busy, but lets face it, this is frustrating.

Secret. . . Motivation is stimulated with interest and feeling we can do the task.

You & I know if the game is too difficult, it isn’t any fun.

Dementia Activities Appear Difficult, Now What

Memory Jogging Puzzles and Memory Games

are fun, simplified puzzles and games.

When played at individuals level, you will keep their interest because they are experiencing success and a feeling of pride.

Fear of Failure

Perhaps the reason many elderly do not want to participate in their activities, is not because they don’t want to join in, BUT because they are afraid of failure.

They may have forgotten how to work a puzzle or play a memory game.

Help them remember

Secret. . . Completing a task, no matter the size is success.

• No matter the size, it takes concentration.

• Repetition helps help slow down memory loss and brain deterioration and improves concentration.

7. Some use photos of loved ones, objects or buildings from their loved ones past trying to stimulate conversation.

Many Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients do not remember their loved ones, places and objects from their past.

This causes more frustration for family and patient.

Many are living in a time period from their past.

Powerful Jigsaw Puzzles for your loved one with dementia

2008: Memory Jogging Puzzles and Memory Exercise Card Games (also referred to as: Memory Puzzles, Alzheimer’s Puzzles & Matching Games or Memory Games) were developed and designed for people with Alzheimer’s Disease to help slow down memory loss and brain deterioration.
• Cognitive Therapy
• Brain Exercise
• Memory Exercise

Note: Sometimes we let our own feelings get in the way, when selecting the puzzle and number of pieces for our loved one.

We think surely the 6 piece puzzle would be too easy for mom or dad but sometimes it is not.

I suggest both the 6 piece and 12 piece puzzles, starting with the 6 piece. When it is put together easily, introduce the 12 piece puzzle.

If frustration shows up, gently go back to the 6 piece.

Memory Activities with Memory Jogging Puzzles & Memory Exercise Cards

Group example


Rose put a 12 piece puzzle together by herself without any trouble.

Next, she played with the gossips card game for a while.

• Then, she picked up another 12 piece puzzle and started to put it together and became very upset.

She could not remember how to put it together and began to cry.

She just needed a little assistance and finished the puzzle with a smile and said at the end “this was a fun time”.

Frustration sets in so easily when elderly patients cannot remember how to do activities they once did so well.

It only takes a minute or so to help them and they are okay.

After thought: I was thinking about Rose and what happened.

This was a large group of about 18 residents, too many for one person and another lesson learned.

Many did not need help, and if they got stuck the person next to them would help out. The chatter and laughter among them was great.

If this would have been a one on one situation with Rose, we would have done the puzzles first and then switched to the cards.

I feel if she would have reached for the 2nd puzzle, after completing the first one, she would not have needed assistance.

Her rhythm or thought process was broken when she switched to the gossip cards and then went back to the puzzles.

Her memory of how to put the puzzle together was easily recalled with a little help.

Take a step back

You may be tired, but do not make a deep sigh, it is amazing how elderly patients pick up on our frustrations.

Each individual is unique, keep in mind it is better for your loved one to experience success with a 6 piece puzzle rather than experience frustration and tears with a 12 piece.

The 20 piece is recommended for elderly to early onset dementia.

Secret. . . Completion and a feeling of success will build self esteem and confidence.

Activity Directors suggest 15-29 minutes, for activities. Elderly get tired, lose focus and interest and will stop participating in activity.

A few minutes often, is better for everyone. In the beginning, I like to spend maybe 10-15 minutes, of good interaction.

Tip: Watch for frustration signs or better yet:

Before your visit, think about how you are going to spend your time with the person and avoid situations that might cause frustration.

Have you downloaded your FREE Step-by-Step Guide for Caregivers

12 piece puzzles

Memory Games

©Karen Miller