Posts Tagged games for people with dementia

Play Shamrock Bingo



Get in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit, and play some Shamrock Bingo! Many free printables, such as this one, can be found online. Try to avoid bingo cards with busy designs – they may be too confusing for the person with dementia. The example above is ideal because there are only a few squares, they do not contain words or numbers, and most of the images are recognizable. Be alert to confusion or frustration in the person, and help them through this if it occurs.

You might consider serving green jello or shepherd’s pie before or after the activity. Make a day of it, and get your Irish on!

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Play Shake Loose a Memory!

shake loose a memoryshake loose a memory 2

This game is the best conversation starter! It also provides a wonderful opportunity to reminisce with your person. Shake Loose a Memory contains a single die. Participants roll the die to see which card they should receive. Each card begins with a simple instruction, such as “Keep this card if you have driven a tractor.” If yes, the person will respond to the question posed at the bottom of the card, such as “Remember sitting in the driver’s seat?”. If no, the individual would roll again and draw a new card. Like with other games and activities, the focus should not be on ‘winning’ or providing the ‘best’ answer. It is about connecting meaningfully with the person and allowing them to share a piece of their history with you. Have fun with it! :)

To learn more or to purchase this product, follow this link.

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Play with a Nerf Football

We are currently in the midst of football season! I trust this is exciting news for many of us, as football has been the most popular sport in America 30 years running. Men in particular may be passionate about the sport, and it may even form part of their identify. However, as dementia progresses, the person’s attention span will decrease and watching a full 3-hour game may no longer be possible (You can pretty much rule out watching a full DAY of football on Sundays). Instead, you may wish to consider some of these fun, football-related activity ideas.

nerf football

Your person may enjoy playing with a Nerf Football, which is safer and softer than a traditional football. You can be completely creative in how the Nerf Football is played with. For instance, throwing the ball back and forth may be suitable to someone that becomes confused with complex rules.

You could invest in a ‘football rug’ (shown below, about $20.00 at most retailers) or create your own makeshift version. Your person might enjoy throwing a pass to you as you stand in the end zone or punting the ball to the opposite end of the field. You can cheer and congratulate the person as they secure the game-winning rushing touchdown!

football_field_rug touchdown football rug


Also, do not forget to reminisce about the person’s experiences related to football! Sharing favorite sport memories can be a fun and engaging activity in itself.

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Play Stadium Checkers

Stadium Checkers, also known as Roller Bowl, is a fun game in which players try to be the first to move all their colored marbles from the outter to the inner rings of the game board or “stadium”. Per Wikipedia:

“Players begin the game by choosing one color of marble and placing them in the start positions on the outer-most ring on the board. Starting with the start player, players take turns choosing one of the rings on the board and rotating it until one or more marbles drop to the next ring. A player cannot choose a ring to rotate that does not have marbles adjacent to it, as marbles must be made to drop by twisting the ring on a player’s turn. As the marbles work towards the center chutes, players try to navigate their marbles towards their chute. If a player’s marble falls into a chute that is not his own, the marble is returned to the start position on the outer-most ring of the board. The first player to get all five of their marbles into their chute in the center wins the game.”

This game is super fun, was originally introduced and, I’m told, quite popular in the 1950s, so it may be stored in long term memory for those who were board game aficionados in the past. However, even for those who never played, the concept of turning the circles to race their marbles to the center is pretty easy to grasp. Heck, even if you don’t play it as a game, just moving the marbles down and creating fun patterns while you go is fun!

Don’t forget to reminisce while playing! Ask if the person with memory loss remembers playing this or other games, who they played with, if they ever cheated at a board game, etc!

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Play Chinese Checkers

chinee checkers

Chinese Checkers is another one of those games that is great for people with memory loss because it’s likely to be familiar and the rules preserved in long term memory. If, however, you need a refresher, there is a great tutorial (with pictures!) here.

It may be easier for someone with memory loss to use a simplified board such as the one below
This two man board can be purchased online here.

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Draw with a Spinning Top


These fun tops work just like any other top toy, but with a fun extra-they draw as they spin! Just lay down a sufficiently large piece of paper and watch the top trace its path as it’s spins! It’s fun to experiment with spinning it faster or slower to see how the design changes, which might help keep someone with a short attention span engaged longer than if it was just a normal top toy. You can also use the resulting art as part of another activity-maybe making cards or a mobile.

Spinning tops can be bought online or at your local toy store.

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Play Old Maid

old maid

While I don’t necessarily like the name of the game, I do have to admit that it is fun to play. It’s rules and objective are very similar to Go Fish, but with a twist. Like in Go Fish, players want to make pairs which are discarded from their hand. The last players to get rid of all of the cards in their hand, loses. The difference is that in Old Maid, there is one card without a match-the old maid. The players who ends up with this card at the end of the game, loses. Old Maid can be played with a speciality card deck, such as the one in the picture above, or with a regular card deck with all but one of the Queens removed or with a Joker added. Also, unlike Go Fish, in which players are generally dealt 7 cards and then draw from a deck, in Old Maid all the cards are dealt to the players and they take turns drawing from each other’s hands. Because of this, the game is best played with 3 or more players, otherwise, every draw is guaranteed to be a match to something in your hand!

For those in the more moderate stages of the disease, having a lot of cards to have to scan may be challenging, so playing as “teams” may be less stressful. Or, try playing with half of a deck to simplify the process. Of course, if you have a speciality deck, they might enjoy just looking at the funny pictures.

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