Most of us can remember playing games as kids where we had to find pairs from a pack of cards turned face-down. It was a test of memory as much as anything, but a bit of reasoning came in to it as well.
Well, these two skills, the ability to memorise and reason, are important for everyday life. They can help us find our way round public transport, manage our finances, etc. This is why it’s essential that older people in particular indulge in these games on a regular basis. In other words, if you look after someone aged 60 or over or who has Alzheimer’s it’s important to include memory games in their care package.
We are already aware from previous research that doing mentally challenging activities such as crosswords, Sudoku and word puzzles, as well as learning new skills, can lessen our chances of getting dementia. A study published last year by King’s College London shows that playing online memory games can have a similar effect.
Which games are good to play with someone who has Alzheimer’s Disease?
Bingo. This is one game which most of us will probably recognise. Researchers rate it as highly effective when it comes to cognitive skills. Playing a game of Bingo can improve an individual’s alertness and awareness of their surroundings for several hours after the game has finished and help to slow down the disease.
Jigsaw. Like Bingo, jigsaws are excellent for cognitive function. A jigsaw is about problem-solving but not in a competitive way.
Memory Lane. The individual with Alzheimer’s is asked to choose a card with a question such as ‘Did your grandfather smoke?’ This encourages him or her to sift back in their memory in order to answer.
Why it’s important to play games
Alzheimer’s can cause individuals to withdraw from everyday relationships with friends and family. Playing games and stimulating their cognitive function can not only slow down the disease, but can also reduce anxiety, maintain relationships and lead to more enjoyment of life.
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