Matching Games For Dementia Should Be Played. . .

The Most Important Rule. . .

Throw out the rules and go with the flow.

My approach to playing memory, matching games may sound to easy, but I discovered in 2007, this was the best way to play matching games with alzheimer, dementia and stroke patients; and keep individual focussed with a smile on their face.

Most elderly have played go fish or similar concentration game in their younger years. These memories and how to play are stored in their long term memory; sometimes these memories need to be awakened. Keep in mind, old habits and hobbies can be recalled in Alzheimer patients.

Played routinely, matching 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.

Sorry, for the bluntness, but you can’t just plop the cards down, walk away and assume dementia patient will know what to do, most will need a little visual guidance.

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 may be asking, how do I know my mother or fathers level of cognitive skills?

I feel the best way for you to discover the level of problem solving skills or thinking skills is by playing one-on-one. This is also a great way to keep track of their improvement or decline by adjusting their game for individual to enjoy the game and have feelings of success. (I keep notes, to refer back to and no, I do not have dementia)

Just a Note: just as you and I have our good and bad days, they too may be having a bad day and not do so well.

Do not ask individual if he/she would like to play cards, if you do most likely you will hear “no”. Yes or no questions usually get “no” for an answer.

Memory Games & Matching Games are similar to go fish but these Matching Games are 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.

My secret to patient success!

I usually sit down, chat for a few moments, talk about their hobbies in younger days and gradually talk about go fish or concentration games. Some will remember these card games and some won’t, which is okay.

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 match games with the cards face up is too easy, but, you would be surprised how some individuals struggle even with this approach.

I like to start with MatchMate, a simplified matching game with large storytelling pictures that capture attention, motivate participation and stimulate conversation. Illustrations are by Norman Rockwell and MatchMate was my first memory exercise card game for dementia patients. Directions are included.

All matching games I designed have large images on a nice smooth card stock.

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MatchMate – Matching Game – Card size: 3.5 x 5″ – $9.95

What is interesting about these Matching 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.

• I ask player to point to the cards that match or the card that is different.

• If there is hesitation, I find an interesting object or detail in one card and ask player to find it in another.

• If player is slow to pointing to cards that match, this is their level. I continue playing with 3 cards of different sets, until their decision is smoother or quicker and they are more sure of themselves.

When matching cards are found, I praise and say good job or you did it, you will see a smile and their eyes light up.

This may seem like an easy, small task but it is a huge achievement to memory loss patients.

This is when my notes come in handy, the next time I want to work with matching cards, I will know how many cards they were playing with last time. Review again with same number and if goes smoothly, I add more cards.

Elderly patients with special needs become frustrated very easily, they may be able to find matching cards one minute and in 5 minutes have difficulty. It takes patients and kind words, no heavy sighs of frustration.

• I also work with 3 cards that don’t match, asking player to find the ones that match. If they realize none match, I know they are thinking and using their problem solving skills well. This also means they have higher cognitive skills or problem solving

• If player points at two cards saying they match, I point out something in one card and ask them to find it in the other cards.

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.

Pulling the cards away at this point may make them feel they have failed, I suggest to go slowly.

• If your loved one is elderly or 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.

Just a Note: 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.

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, they just go for it.

What’s Mis ing? was my second card game, again Norman Rockwell images. What’s Mis ing is more difficult than MatchMate, player must find card with missing item. Again I play matching games face up, directions are included.

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What’s Mis ing? Problem Solving Matching Game
Card size: 3.25 x 5″ – $9.95

There are many ways to play What’s Mis ing?, you can start with the missing card and ask them to find the card that it belongs to.

I usually start with one set of cards, and add another set or just add another missing item card, to make player think a little more.

More Matching Games for Memory Loss Support 

What is best about these Matching Games? They will give you a fun way to connect with your loved one.

These matching games,  have been tested by elderly, Alzheimer, dementia and stroke patients for usability and patient satisfaction getting positive results.

“Studies show memory games help slow down memory loss and brain deterioration.” Geron Guide – Beacon to Better Health for Seniors.

Matching Games are also known as Memory Games, Memory Improvement Games, Memory Match Games, Memory Exercise Cards and Concentration Game

Keep in mind: you are in control of the game, when there is success, even if small, praise will help build your loved one’s self esteem and they will want to stay in the game.

These matching games are brain exercises, mind and memory exercises to help slow down memory loss, brain deterioration, and for your loved one to build self-esteem, confidence and feel happy.

Played routinely, you may see their decision making get a little quicker and staying the same is also great.

Signs of frustration

A trip to the care center with Matching Games.

I was working with a gentleman who was acing everything and made the comment this is easy.

After hearing his comment, I laid a few sets face down, scrambled them and he anxiously started to play.

It wasn’t 2 minutes and he was saying . . . “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.

Save money with bundles Purchase Matching Games

Sarah Stilwell Weber artist of early 1900's

Sarah S. Stilwell – Artist of early 1900’s, illustrated for The Saturday Evening Post

article: Got to know when to fold em!

Got to know when to Fold Em!

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