If you are living with dementia, it is important to keep as active as possible, not just physically but mentally. Games for dementia are becoming increasingly popular as a way of keeping a person stimulated during the day, so that behaviours that might challenge later in the day are reduced.
There are a number of dementia game ideas available that can encourage social interaction between you and your loved one, whilst providing an opportunity for you both to engage in something meaningful. Here we explore the benefits of games for people with dementia and the types of games that are most suitable, whilst outlining the types of games that should be avoided.
Why games are so important for dementia
There are many compelling benefits to a person living with dementia to engage in games:
Slow the decline of dementia
By continuing to do as many activities and day-to-day tasks as independently as possible is well known to deliver improved outcomes for a person living with dementia. Being supported by a family member or a professional carer to participate in games for dementia patients, can enable a person to retain their abilities and stay active for longer, thus reducing the decline of the condition.
Providing productivity and fun
Supporting a person living with dementia to participate in activities and games can boost mood and self-esteem, whilst providing some much-needed fun. It provides the stimulation needed to reduce boredom and negative behaviours.
Boosting creativity and expression
Creative games for dementia can help to stimulate the brain and enable a person living with dementia to express themselves through the game. This can make them feel more connected with the world and those around them.
Provide a daily structure
A structure to daily life is important to those living with dementia as it provides comfort and familiarity. Incorporating dementia games into day-to-day life can provide the stability a person with dementia needs, avoiding feelings of disorientation and confusion.
Reducing behaviours that can be challenging
By keeping a person living with dementia occupied it can significantly reduce common behaviours that may challenge. Anxiety, agitation and communication concerns, like repeated questions can all be reduced if a person is kept occupied and is able to use their energy positively.
Dementia games you can play with your loved one
There are several games to help with dementia available on the market that help stimulate cognitive function. They also provide an opportunity for socialisation and fun, whether that is with a family member or a professional carer. Some children’s games are often the right level for someone with dementia, but you should ensure they provide some level of challenge but not be too simplistic for your loved one become frustrated.
Card and board games – there are a several games created for people who are living with dementia to stimulate cognitive function including:
- Jumbo slide-slot bingo cards – these enlarged bingo cards are perfect for those living with dementia as are easy to follow and all the family can use.
- Marble mazes – these hand-held marble games are suitable for those who have visual or dexterity difficulties. ‘Amazing Chase’ is a well-known marble maze and is suitable for those with advancing dementia.
- Call to Mind – this is a board game for dementia designed to encourage conversation and stimulate memories for those living with dementia, combating boredom and irritation.
- Unforgettable and Puzzler – this 140-page book includes puzzles and activities, including crosswords, nostalgia and much more specifically designed for those living with dementia to stimulate the mind and conversation.
- Snakes and ladders – using an adapted version of this popular game, using numbered cards instead of dice can provide those living with dementia much enjoyment and stimulate memories of family and the past, or childhood.
Other types of games for dementia patients
- Word search – specially adapted word search games with no more than 30 words, provides cognitive stimulation to those living with dementia.
- Colouring books – colouring books are increasing in popularity in adults. For someone living with dementia it provides relaxation and builds self-esteem. The Alzheimer’s Society sells a range of books on their website for dementia patients.
Dementia games to avoid
It is worth remembering that dementia is a progressive disease. Games that are stimulating and fun in the early stages of dementia are not necessarily so during advanced stage dementia. You will need to adapt the games you play to ensure the person living with dementia does not feel frustrated, bored or agitated through not being able to complete certain games.
Games to avoid if you are living with dementia include:
Games that are too complex
Complex games of strategy, for example chess will only confuse and frustrate a person living with dementia. They will be anxious that they cannot complete the game due to their ability which can cause much upset. Focus on games they can do rather than ones they cannot.
Games that involve completing tasks in a time frame should also be avoided. They cause stress and anxiety if a person living with dementia is unable to complete. Feelings of loss can occur which does nothing to build self-esteem.
As the condition progresses some word games are not suitable for a person with advanced stage dementia and can have a detrimental effect. Scrabble (in an adaptive format) can be excellent in the early stages of dementia, but is difficult for a person with advanced stage dementia to engage in.
Electronic games can cause frustration as many are just too complex for a person living with dementia to engage in.
Games that require too much physical exertion, for example tabletop skittles can prove challenging for a person living with dementia, particularly in late-stage dementia.
How The Good Care Group can help?
For families who are considering long-term care for a loved one, you will no doubt be thinking about where your loved one should receive that care. Many will naturally consider a care home where there is likely to be a comprehensive programme of activities for your loved one to enjoy. However, live-in care is fast becoming the preferred choice for those who wish to stay in the comfort and familiarity of their own home, especially when they are living with dementia. There are many benefits to receiving one-to-one live-in care from a trained and dedicated carer who enables your loved one to enjoy games and activities that are meaningful to them, not just a group of people.
We will match a carer team to meet not just specific care needs, but to provide companionship, socialisation and emotional support. This can involve simply providing much-needed company, avoiding feelings of isolation, but can also entail facilitating and taking part in activities.
As part of our comprehensive care planning process, we will ensure any hobbies and activities, including any suitable dementia games are included in the plan of care, which will be regularly reviewed by a dedicated care manager in line with a person’s care needs.
The care we provide is flexible and our carers are on hand to provide gentle encouragement to try new games that may make life more stimulating and enjoyable. Our trained dementia carers understand which activities and games are suitable for those living with dementia and use best practice tools and techniques to help maintain cognitive function. They aim to make life engaging and interesting, significantly reducing feelings of low mood, frustration and anxiety sometimes associated with the condition.
Playing games for people with dementia provides an opportunity for our carers to socialise and have fun with their client. It enables a carer to develop a social bond with them, enjoying games and activities they both enjoy.