These “invisible ink” activity books used to be all the rage. I distinctly remember going to F&M or the drug store with my mom every Sunday and picking out two of these books: one for me, and one for my grandmother. I liked the ones featuring pictures and mazes you on covered with the decoding pen, while Grandma usually requested the trivia or mystery version (as seen above). The basic premises of the book is this: invisible ink is used to print parts of pictures or text in the book and you use the provided “decoder pen” to uncover the invisible picture or text revealing answers to questions printed in regular ink or completing missing parts of pictures.
Why are these good for people with memory loss?
1. They are super fun. I don’t know what it is, but there is something very satisfying and exciting about revealing the invisible words.
2. They come in a variety of forms, from picture completion; trivia (where the answers are invisible); games such as connect-the-dots, hangman, tic-tac-toe, and battleship; “coloring”; and mysteries. This variety is great not only as a way to appeal to those with differing interests, but also to those of differing ability levels. Those in the early stages might find the trivia or mysteries more fun with the “big reveal” provided by the decoder pen. Those in the moderate stages might like that the mazes are “fail-proof” because as they trace their way through the maze, if they make a wrong turn, they’ll know it right away because the decoder pen will stop revealing the path out, cueing them to go back and try a different route. They may also like the familiar, simple games. Those in the late stages might enjoy “painting” pictures (all they have to do is scribble on the picture with the decoder pen to reveal. The decoder pen will reveal the colors in the black and white outlines).
3. They are designed to be used by one person, meaning the person with memory loss can play games (even usually two-player games like tic-tac-toe) by themselves.
4. No mess! The decoder pen is completely clear, so even if you color off the page, nothing is ruined!
5. They travel really well, making them great for waiting at doctor’s appointments, while traveling, etc.
6. They’re inexpensive.
7. They come in “manly” varieties, which not all crafty/activity kits do.
They are admittedly harder to find now than they used to be (but then again, so is F&M. I wonder what happened to that store….), but you can sometimes find them at bookstores, kid’s toy/book sections of big box stores, and, of course, online. For the latter, just type “invisible ink books” into your favorite search engine and you’ll get tons of results.
Good luck and happy de-coding/revealing!