Dementia is not a specific disease but is a general term for the progressive loss of cognitive functioning, including the ability to remember, think or make decisions that interfere with everyday activities. While there is no cure, engaging individuals with dementia in stimulating and enjoyable activities can help improve cognitive function, enhance memory retention and promote overall well-being.
Take a look at our top 5 activities and memory games that you can use whilst caring for someone with dementia.
1. Card and board games
Card and board games are wonderful options for someone with dementia as they not only aid cognitive training, but they also foster social engagement and a sense of accomplishment.
Card games like matching games, Uno or go fish are simple and can promote cognitive skills such as memory, attention and decision-making. For individuals with higher cognitive abilities, traditional board games like Scrabble, chess or checkers can provide mental stimulation and social interaction.
That said, should one’s cognitive ability be considerably impaired, adaptations to these games can be made, such as using larger cards or simplifying rules. It’s also important to choose games that are familiar, have clear instructions and encourage participation.
Bingo is a popular and enjoyable activity for adults with dementia, helping to improve one’s brain’s processing speeds, alertness and memory capabilities. Most importantly, bingo offers a sense of excitement, engagement and achievement. This makes it a fantastic choice for individuals with dementia, allowing them to have fun while exercising their cognitive abilities in a friendly and supportive environment.
It is also easy to understand and play, so it is stage-specific for anyone except those in the very last stages of the disease.
3. Trivia & conversation cards
Trivia is another superb way for seniors with dementia to socialise with friends while stimulating their cognitive functions. But most importantly, trivia games that focus on topics from their past, such as music, movies or historical events, are a fantastic way to evoke memories and stimulate cognitive function.
Likewise, conversation cards with open-ended questions promote social interaction and encourage individuals to share personal stories and experiences. That said, choose cards with large, clear print and ensure the questions are simple and relevant.
4. Word games
Another great style of brain training game for adults with dementia is word games. Just like the others, these games help to stimulate cognitive function, improve concentration and enhance visual perception.
Games like word association and word chain can encourage cognitive function, language skills and memory recall. However, always make sure to simplify the game by using familiar words or topics related to their interests. This is really important to evoke old memories.
Scramble or crossword puzzles are also highly effective in keeping dementia patients’ minds active. In fact, if it is played regularly, games like Scrabble can improve thought processes, reasoning and even slow cognitive decline.
Word games offer a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment, providing a meaningful way for individuals with dementia to stay engaged and entertained.
5. Try video games
Video games are a surprisingly effective activity for adults with dementia. In fact, recent research has shown that specifically designed brain training games may enhance cognitive functioning in older adults, especially in areas such as visual recognition, visual memory and attention.
Choose games that are simple, intuitive and visually engaging. These could be puzzle games, virtual bowling or even memory-matching games. And, why not incorporate the use of controllers or devices that are easy to handle and understand?
The options are extensive when it comes to trialling video games for dementia patients. Perhaps try out a traditional desktop computer game, Nintendo Wii, Switch, or even a smartphone or tablet – which are all becoming increasingly popular among older adults.
What are the advantages of memory games for dementia patients?
Whether a senior with dementia is in a care home or lives at home, memory games can be a superb way to keep their minds active, improve cognitive function and much more. Other notable advantages of memory games for dementia patients include:
- Cognitive stimulation: Memory games engage the brain, improving memory, attention and problem-solving skills.
- Enjoyable experiences: Games provide a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment, as well as reducing boredom.
- Social interaction: Games encourage communication, foster connections with others and combat feelings of isolation.
- Slowing cognitive decline: Regular engagement in memory games can potentially slow down the progression of cognitive decline.
- Personalised challenges: Games can be tailored to the individual’s abilities and stage of dementia.
- Promoting brain health: Memory games serve as a form of mental exercise, promoting overall brain health and well-being.
Board games are not exclusively reserved for the young, but are a proven method to aid cognitive function in those with dementia. By incorporating enjoyable and stimulating games like bingo, trivia and word games into your dementia care plan, you can provide meaningful experiences that promote mental agility and create moments of joy for adults of all abilities.
To better understand how a dementia care home within The Fremantle Trust supports the needs of those requiring dementia care with a vast range of activities and hobbies, please do not hesitate to contact us today.