Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative disease of the brain cells that results in memory loss. It leads to dementia that affects the functions of the brain associated with speech, language, decision-making, judgment, thinking and perception. This condition is more common in people over the age of 65 years and there is no known cure for it. The only method of treatment is slowing the progression of the disease and support from family and loved ones. Taking care of an Alzheimer's patient can, sometimes, prove to be a challenge for the family, especially so in the advanced stages of the disease.
Brain Games for Alzheimer's Patients
Dementia is nothing but the aging of brain cells, which gradually stop functioning. To prevent the early aging of the cells of the brain, all we need to do is to keep the brain as active and stimulated as possible. But how can you keep your brain engaged and active? What amounts to optimum mental stimulation? Games are an easy and fun way to exercise your gray matter and keep it active. Research has shown that certain games can help improve memory skills and combat memory loss in patients with Alzheimer's. So, if you have a loved one who has Alzheimer's, then not only can you help him deal with the forgetfulness but also you can interact with him in a loving way, with these games.
Find the Pair
This is an interesting game that can be played with the help of picture cards. Get picture cards that have pairs of pictures in them. Now, place the cards face down. Let the player pick up cards one by one, see the picture and then place it down again. The goal is to find all the pairs as soon as possible. To do this, the player must remember which picture he saw where, so that when he turns over a card to find a pair of an image he has already seen, he must be able to find the card on which he saw it first. To begin with, have a small numbers of cards and as the person improves, you can add to the number of cards.
This game can also be played by matching names of people with their pictures. All you need to do is collect pictures of people, which can either be family members or celebrities, and write their names on separate pieces of paper. Once you're done, keep the picture cards and the names face-up. Now, ask the players to pick the name cards, and place each one next to its respective picture. You can also use pictures of places or animals.
Repeat the List
This is a game we all have played at some point during our childhood and this can be an interesting activity for Alzheimer's patients. Begin with a small group of two or four people. One player starts the game by saying a word. Now, the second player in the group says the word spoken by the first player and adds another to it. This way, a list of words is created and every player has to say each word of the list in every turn and add a new word to it. This a good memory game that requires the players to concentrate. You can begin with words that are similar such as names of fruits or flowers, etc and later on, play using random words. Another way to play the same game is to have your loved one look at a list of words and then ask him to write as many as he can remember.
What's the Song?
Now, this can turn out to be really interesting! You can ask the person to identify a song by looking at its video, or listening to its instrumental version. You can easily download these from the internet. However, choosing the right songs is essential to keep the person from losing interest. For this, you can go for his/her favorite songs or choose songs from his/her favorite genre of music. Another way to play this game is to pick any random sentence from the song and encourage the person to recall the words that follow. Whichever way you choose to play the game, remember that appreciating the efforts of the players, can make a huge difference.
Playing jigsaw puzzles is another way to improve memory power and retaining the memory of Alzheimer's patients. Start with puzzles that are simple, with pieces that are bigger and fewer in number. Let the person have a look at the complete picture and then you can sit with the person as he reassembles the pieces. During the game, you can help your loved one, if needed.
Spot the Difference!
This is a simple yet useful memory exercise. Get pairs of pictures that are seemingly identical except for small minute differences. Begin by showing one of the pictures to Alzheimer's patient and ask him to observe it carefully. Once he is done, take it away and show him the other picture. Now ask him to spot as many differences as he can remember.
Close Your Eyes!
An effective memory game for Alzheimer's patients, this is a game in which you ask questions to Alzheimer's patient. How does that help, you may ask. Well, the catch is that the patient has to answer with his eyes closed! First, you ask the patient to observe his surroundings carefully and then once the person closes his eyes, you ask him questions about the details. For example, if you all are in a park, you can ask him the names of the trees around, the color of the benches, names of flowers in the park, etc. Get the picture?
In addition to playing memory games, Alzheimer's patients should be encouraged to have a social life and interact with neighbors and relatives, on a regular basis. You should also involve an Alzheimer's patient in regular activities by going shopping together or reading the newspaper with him. The key is to keep him in touch with the day-to-day activities. Above all, your loved one, suffering from Alzheimer's, needs your attention, love and care!