Best Results = One-On-One
& Dementia patients level of cognitive skills. You are probably thinking how do I know my mother or fathers level of cognitive skills.
The only way you can truly discover players level of problem-solving skills or thinking skills is by playing with memory match games One-on-One.
Playing memory match games this way and observing their body language, you can adjust the match game to their level, meaning the number of cards you play with, this is also a great way to keep track of their cognitive abilities.
Played routinely, you may see their decision making get a little quicker and staying the same is great also.
If you don’t have time to sit for 5-10 minutes, do it another time, when you are more relaxed.
It is amazing how dementia patients pick up on our frustrations and soon their response will be, I don’t want to do this.
You can’t just plop the cards down and walk away assuming your loved one with dementia will know what to do, most will need a little visual guidance.
Do not ask if your loved one wants to play cards or Memory Match Game. Yes and no questions usually get “no” for an answer.
I usually sit down, chat for a few moments, talk about their hobbies in younger days and gradually talk about go fish game. Some will remember these games and some won’t, which is okay.
Memory Match Games are similar to go fish but played with a twist.
I want to mention, before you start playing the game, make sure player is sitting close to the table and all the cards are within reach. This is especially important for those in stroke recovery with limited mobility.
How to Play Memory Match Games
I like to start with MatchMate, simplified with large storytelling pictures capture attention, motivate participation and stimulate conversation. Illustrations by Norman Rockwell and my first memory exercise game for dementia.
What is interesting about these Match Games, dementia patients love the real life pictures, they may not recall how to play “go fish” but most recall Norman Rockwell and The Saturday Evening Post, this alone makes interaction easier.
Most dementia patients cannot play matching games with the cards face down. I discovered early, this is a direct path to frustration and hearing I don’t want to play any more, but it is up to you.
• I begin with 3 cards face up, 2 that match (a set) and 1 other card.
You may feel playing the match games with the cards face up is too easy, but, you would be surprised how some individuals struggle even with this approach.
Interesting Observation: I have noticed when men are unsure they are more cautious to point out 2 cards that match, I don’t think they want to be embarrassed or show failure; women on the other hand don’t care about making the wrong selection.
When matching 2 cards praise and say good job or you did it, you will see a smile and their eyes light up.
What’s Best about these Match Games? They will give you the power to engage with your loves one.
“Studies show memory games help slow down memory loss and brain deterioration.” Geron Guide – Beacon to Better Health for Seniors.
Memory Match Games are also known as Memory Games, Memory Improvement Games, Memory Games, Memory Exercise Cards and Concentration Game.
• When player has been successful, I try different set. Depending on the level of player I add another set, and ask player to find 2 cards that match, then 2 more, etc.
It isn’t that I am trying to trick individual, but I want him or her to observe details and think using their problem solving skills.
This is a great way to discover their problem solving skills and watch for improvement.
It may be a small task but a huge achievement to them.
• If they are having difficulties and you are playing with 3 cards; use the same 3 cards the next time until they improve recollection.
• Don’t add additional sets until they have mastered matching one set.
• It is easier to add sets, than see the frustration on their face and tears in their eyes when trying to use all of the cards.
Pulling the cards away at this point may make them feel they have failed, I suggest to go slowly.
• If your loved one is in early stage dementia, playing the cards face up, may be too easy. If so, take just a few sets and turn them face down like the concentration game, adding more sets when they are successful.
You are in control of the game, when there is success, even if small, praise will help build your loved one stay in the game.
These memory match games are brain exercises and memory exercises to help slow down memory loss, brain deterioration, and for your loved one to build self-esteem, confidence and feel happy.
The memory games have been tested by elderly, Alzheimer, dementia and stroke patients for usability and patient satisfaction getting positive results.
For less frustration and more success learn how:
• to approach dementia patient
• to encourage participation
• to read their body language
• what causes frustration
• what made them want to quit
• what puts a smile on their face
The Most Important Rule
Throw out the rules and just go with the flow.
Most elderly have played go fish or similar concentration game in their younger years. These memories and how to play the game are stored in their memory, and sometimes need to be awakened, remember old habits and hobbies can be recalled in Alzheimer patients.
Played routinely match games can help improve memory, concentration, stimulate problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination, known as Cognitive Skills, and build self-esteem and self confidence.
a trip to the care center
I was working with a gentleman who was acing everything and made the comment this is easy.
Then I laid a few sets face down, scrambled them and he started to play.
It wasn’t 2 minutes and he was expressing . . . “I don’t want to play this anymore”.
I know if he could have found 2 cards that matched he would have been fine, but he didn’t find any and stopped playing.
He didn’t know it, but playing the match game face down was too difficult for him.
Next time, we played face up and he was happy and successful.
What I learned. . .
Success is in the eye of the beholder, and when working with dementia patients it takes on a new meaning.
• Completion of a task, no matter the size is SUCCESS!
• No matter the size of task, it takes concentration and focus.
• Repetition, helps increase concentration.
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