You Got To Know When To Fold EM

You Got To Know When To Fold EM

John in mid 80’s wanted to do all my puzzles and yes, he remembered Norman Rockwell and The Saturday Evening Post.

Reminiscing while putting the wooden puzzles together, John told me about his hobby,  putting large puzzles together, 500 – 1000 pieces and he proudly showed his completed puzzles that were on display in the Assisted Living Home I was visiting.

My simplified wooden puzzles were not a challenge to him, and he told me.

Testing Acrylic Puzzles

I was in the process of working on 6 and 12 piece acrylic puzzles, with no image, just a solid “bubblegum” color and I had them with me, so I pulled them out.

John was interested in these puzzles and wanted to put them together. His first comment was “you have to think a little more with these, I match the colors on my big puzzles”.

Starting with the 6 piece, he touched and studied the acrylic pieces carefully before taking puzzle apart. This was his routine with all puzzles. Then he started to put the 6 piece acrylic puzzle together, conquering it fairly quickly and I noticed he was timing himself.

As I brought out the 12 piece acrylic puzzle, his eyes widened, “these are harder”.

Focusing on the 12 piece puzzle, he again studied the puzzle together; then took it apart and started to put it back together.

He stumbled a few times, took a moment, and was at it again. John did not want any assistance, determined to succeed, and he did.

Highlights of comforting activities for dementia patients

Another gentleman observing wanted to put the 12 piece acrylic puzzle together.

He sat down and quickly broke the puzzle apart and anxiously started to put it back together.

Learn the signs of frustration

He picked up one piece, tried to fit it together with another, no, that didn’t work, picked up another, no, that didn’t work either.

Observing closely, I noticed frustration and bewilderment appearing on his face.

frustrated man, signs of frusration

Asking if I could help, “no, I can do it”!

Suddenly, I noticed his hands and fingers making snappy motions, as if he was touching something hot.

To this point, 3 – 5 minutes, he wasn’t successful in finding two pieces to connect.

Gently putting my hands over the puzzle pieces, I gathered them together saying, “I don’t like this puzzle, let’s try another”.

The 6 piece acrylic puzzle would have been easier for him, and he could have possibly done it. But, rather than chance it, I decided to change the game to a 6 piece memory wooden puzzle with storytelling picture on it.

Together we built the puzzle discussing the picture. He relaxed again, needed a bit of help but he did it.

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It is important to, Defuse Frustration!

Everyone is different, some things appear simple and easy to one, but are nightmare to someone else.

If frustration appears, change the game.

PS. I should have insisted starting with the 6 piece, and moving up to the 12 piece. He was insistent, I didn’t, and I regret it.

Watch carefully for expressions and actions, the object is to have fun, not frustrate; but we need to challenge also, on the fringe.

(These acrylic, one color, no picture. One has to match the angles and curves. More difficult than puzzle with image). Puzzles are not available.

Activities that entertain, educate and encourage dementia patients

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© Karen Miller