Eldercare Series: Simple Games to Improve Elder Memory

Memory is one skill that many people don’t think about until they start losing it. Unfortunately as we age, we can lose a list of skills and abilities, and often memory is included. Noticeable loss of short-term and/or long-term memory can happen by itself, or come along with a disorder or disease like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

While you can’t always stop memory loss in its tracks, there are some fun and simple games that you and your elder can play together to slow the loss and work on memory skills. Many of these games can be played with the entire family and are perfect for family game night or quality bonding time. There is even one game perfect for your preschooler and senior citizen to play on their own.

Memory

Pick up a deck of Memory cards in the toy and game section and your elder, or even preschooler, can work on this skill by themselves. Memory is a perfect game for one person or even five people. The cards have cute illustrations on them, like a cat, an apple, or a school bus, and there will be two cards in each deck with the same illustration on them. Shuffle the cards and lay them all out on a table face down.

Each person playing gets to turn over two cards. If the cards match, the person gets to hold them in their pile and they get to turn over two more cards. If the cards do not match, they get placed face down again and everyone playing tries to remember what was on them. The goal of the game is to find as many matches as possible, and have the most matched cards in their pile at the end of the game.

Puzzles

People of all ages enjoy jigsaw puzzles, and they come from super simple 10 piece versions to intricate 5,000 piece versions. A great way to work on memory is to let your elder look and memorize the picture on the box for a few minutes, and then have them attempt to construct the puzzle from memory. This is called doing a “blind” puzzle, meaning you aren’t constantly looking at the box to figure it out.

Get everyone in the family involved and make it a family challenge. This is a great way to get everyone unplugged and spending quality time together. Make sure you choose a puzzle with a difficulty level appropriate for your kiddos or elder, as the goal is to have fun and you don’t want anyone getting frustrated and quitting.

Simon Says

Remember Simon Says from when you were a kid? This game is a great way to work on not only memory skills, but everything from listening skills to motor skills also. One person is Simon and calls out the directions or tasks. For example, your kiddo may be Simon and say “Simon says touch your knees.” Everyone playing would then touch their knees and wait for the next task.

If your kiddo just said “touch your knees,” and didn’t start out with “Simon says,” then anyone who does the task is out. The goal is to only do tasks that start with “Simon says,” and to be the last person in the game. Let everyone take turns being Simon, and see what fun tasks your family comes up with.

How do you keep your elder’s memory sharp? Are their certain games, tools, or tasks that work for your family? Leave a comment and let us know. We LOVE comments!

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