Posts Tagged Games

Play a Simple iPad Game



Technology isn’t just for the young, so why not have some fun with an iPad?  Even those in the moderate stages of the disease can enjoy playing intuitive games like air hockey, marbles, or even Angry Birds using the iPad’s touch screen.  Many of these games are free or low cost, so there’s little to lose if they don’t enjoy them (that’s assuming you don’t go out and buy and iPad just for the person with dementia.  I wouldn’t recommend doing that). 

Other two-person games are also fun to play on the iPad with the person with dementia, such as tic tac toe.  Finally, even those in the later stages of the disease might like “painting” on the iPad screen or “coloring” pictures.  The best part-no mess to clean up!  For those in the moderate to late stages, you may find that simple games geared for younger users (but that aren’t offensively childish) might work best.  If all else fails, you can always use the iPad to watch the fish swim in a soothing aquarium or download Crazy Face, an app in which the cartoon monster on the screen moves his mouth and eyebrows by listening the  user speak.

The iPad is great for using in waiting rooms, so you don’t have to bring a lot of stuff to get a lot of entertainment options.  This feature is perfect for those with finicky tastes or a short attention span; f they don’t like or get bored with the first game, just try another! 

The risk, of course, is that an iPad is a pretty novel device, so there are fewer long-term memories that can help guide a new user with dementia on what to do.  Therefore, you might find that you have to explain what to do every time, or even multiple times within the same sitting.  Still, if you still with more familiar games, you will only have to remind them how to use the machine, not how to play the game.   


Other Fun Games to Try:

Can Knockdown

Let’s Create Pottery


Brushes (another painting app)

Dodge Dots (a weirdly fun matching/movement game.  Trust me)



Word Search



Smack it (whack a mole)

Mouse Orchestra (play music by pushing on the mice)



Of course there are TONS of others.  Anyone have any favorites they’d like to share?

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Join us for “A Round to Remember”

When:  Friday August 3rd, 2012.  Shotgun start at 12 noon

Where:  Cracklewood Golf Club, 18215 24 Mile Road, Macomb

Fee:  $85 per person includes 18 holes of golf, drink tickets, and dinner (served after).

Not a golfer?  No problem.  Join us for dinner for only $30!

For details contact Randy Clark at 586-662-1411 or email

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Play the Wii

Just for the record, I have never been to Duxbury, England or its senior center, so please don’t consider this an endorsement of their program.


I’m sure that you’ve heard that Nintendo’s Wii, where you control movement on-screen with your movements, rather than punching buttons, is the new hot thing for older adults.  But what you may not know is that it’s great for those with memory loss as well.  The intuitive controls and games that rely on long-term memory, such as bowling, tennis, or boxing make it perfect for this group. 

Now I”m not saying you should go out and buy an expensive gaming system, but ask around and see if anyone you know has one (it shouldn’t be hard to find someone) and give it a trial run.  The best games are simple ones, like the starter “Wii Sports” game that comes with Wii when you buy it.  Expect to spend a few minutes teaching how to use the control for each game, but don’t be surprised if after a few turns, your loved one gets the hang of it and doesn’t need-or want-your help anymore!

Those in the moderate stages of the disease might need some reminders throughout the game, but it shouldn’t be enough to be frustrating.  If it is, try playing “hand over hand” where your hand guides theirs.  If even that’s too much, try letting them watch as others play.  Often even just the silly movements the players make and how “into” the game they can get is more entertaining than what’s going on on-screen!



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Come to A Charity Golf Outing at Travis Pointe Country Club



Over the last 14 years, the Alzheimer’s Association Ann Arbor Charity Golf Outing has raised more than $394,000 to support thousands of Michigan residents with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. Join us as we fight to end Alzheimer’s, the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death and a disease that devastates millions of families across the country.

With your help, we can raise awareness and funds to enhance Alzheimer’s care and support and advance critical research. Together, we are an unstoppable force in the fight against Alzheimer’s.


If you would like more information, please call 734.475.7043.


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Play Pooh Sticks

Named after Winnie the Pooh, this game is quite simple.  Go for a nature walk near a river and pick up any stick you find along the way. When you find a bridge, everyone drops one stick off one side of the bridge at the same time, whomever’s stick emerges from the other side of the bridge first, wins!  This activity is great because it involves exercise in the form of walking and bending, some friendly competition, and a good excuse to soak up some fresh air.

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Use Conversation Starters

I have worked with older adults for many years, many of which were spent doing activities (hence why I now write this blog).  I had a TON of fun over the years, but one of the funniest things that ever happened to me on the job was thanks to a “game” called Table Topics.


There are multiple versions available, and I’m not sure which one we were using, but I’m going to tell you the story anyway. Basically, inside the cube are just a bunch of thought-provoking questions on individual cards.  I was sitting with a group of residents with dementia at the facility where I worked and “John” pulled a card that asked (approximately)  “What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and discovered you were suddenly a member of the opposite sex?”  Without skipping a beat he replied, “I would go out and find a man as sexy as I am.”  EVERYONE at the table, including John, started laughing.  We laughed even harder when John started demonstrating how he would woo a man like himself using what he called his “come hither” eyes. 

These cards are great for mild to moderate stages of dementia.  Because it doesn’t rely on short-term memory or facts, anyone who can still communicate can play.  John was very much in the moderate stages of the disease, but he still had a ton of “zingers” at his disposal and clearly loved the chance to make others laugh.  His wife liked to play when she visited as well, saying not only did she love seeing him so happy and animated, but also that it reminded her of when they first met in highschool, where he was the class clown.

There are lots of similar conversation starters out there.  The Book of Questions, by Gregory Stock and Chat Pack: Fun Questions to Spark Conversations by The Question Guys are just two of the many other options out there to help get conversations flowing. 

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Play “Don’t Forget the Lyrics”

When I was 16 I was lucky enough to be gifted my grandparents old car.  It was 15 years old, had no headliner,  was missing the hood ornament, and had a radio whose reception intermittently cut in and out.  However, it was a car and it was all mine, so I loved it.  Eventually, I even came to love the broken radio because my friends and invented “Kar Karoke” in which whenever the radio went out, the person who could continue singing the song that had been playing the longest, won.  We always joked that it would be a good game show, kind of a new twist on name that tune (coincidentally, the show “Don’t Forget the Lyrics”, in which contestants have to finish singing the lyrics to popular songs, debuted a decade or so after my friends and I first played in my car). 

You can make your own version of this game by either playing songs on CD, on record, or online and stopping it.  Or, you can simplifying sing the songs using only your voice.  The chorus or first verse of a song is generally the easiest to remember, but you may find that even the latter verses of favorite songs are still in long-term memory if you go looking for them.  Also, don’t be discouraged if the game is hard at first,  Sometimes singing the songs all the way through first helps to “prime” the memory, so when you sing it a second time with a few lyrics missing, it’s easier to remember. 

Of course, if playing “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” is too hard,  just have an old-fashioned sing along.  Some people find it helpful to have the lyrics of the song in front of them to help jog their memory, others find this distracting, so experiment and see what works best for you and your loved one.

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Balloon Toss

A good way to go through your upper body’s range of motion, tossing a balloon around is a fun way to keep your arms active.  The balloon’s movement is much slower than a ball, making it easier to catch.  You can simply toss it back and forth, or make it a little more challenging by adding music and playing “hot potato” or trying to throw in rhythm.

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Play Checkers

Another classic game, this is great fun for all ages, and its fairly simple rules and placement in players long-term memories means that many individuals with memory loss can play with minimal reminders.   If YOU need a reminder, click here for a quick tutorial.

For those in the later stages of the disease, try playing on “teams” and make decisions on which piece to move together.

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Play Pick up Sticks


A game of physical and mental skill, pick up sticks is a fun reminder of childhood.  It’s simple rules are easy to remember (or to repeat as many times as necessary) during game play.  For those of you who might be a little rusty, the game is played as follows.

1. Bundle up all the sticks and release them onto the playing surface, resulting in a tangled pile.

2.  The first player attempts to remove a stick from the pile without moving any of the other sticks (in some versions the player uses their hands, in others they are allowed to use already picked-up sticks to help). 

3.  The first player’s  continues to pick up sticks until he causes a secondary stick to move.

4.  The second player’s turn begins.  Some versions of the game allow this player to choose between re-bundling and dropping the sticks, causing a new pile, or playing the existing pile.  Others state the player simply continues with the existing pile.

5.  Play continues, with each player taking turns, until all the sticks are picked up.

6.  Winning.  Some versions of the game assign point values to different colored sticks.  The person with the highest point value wins.  Other versions simply states whoever picked up the most sticks wins.


For those in the more moderate stages of the disease, simplifying game play by reducing the number of sticks, or having players only attempt to move one stick per turn may be easier. It may also be wise to determine  the “winner” by number of sticks rather than point values, which may be harder for the person to remember and therefore strategize correctly.  Lastly, using fatter pick up sticks (yes, they exist) or even pencils may be easier to grasp than the more traditional version.

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