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Games & Activities


Indoor Activities

When you age, your cognitive ability will decline. To improve your brain function, cognitive abilities, memory and analytical skills, you will need to participate in activities. These activities need not be challenging and should be as simple as possible.

An example of a simple game is a memory matching game. When you do that, the brain makes sense of the image and retrains that in your memory. Some other popular activities which you can do alone and are inexpensive include puzzles like Sudoku, crossword, word search and hidden phrases.

If you prefer to participate in activities with your friends, challenge them to a session of chess, majong or otello! Group games also encourage socialising which might usually generate interaction and laughter.

When choosing a game for your loved one, keep it simple because the elderly do not like to be frustrated or confused. They are also often reluctant to pursue a new activity if that happens. The objective of the game is to create enjoyment and evoke memories or discussion.

The brain, just like any other organ in the body, needs to be healthy and exercised as well as stimulated to engage and function. You know the old saying, "Use it or lose it." That goes for the brain too.

Outdoor Activities

Keeping the body healthy is as important as keeping the brain healthy. It doesn't matter so much as what activity an elderly parent does as long as they are doing something! Whether it is housework or window-shopping, an activity is an activity.

Get out and walk every day for a few minutes. Engage in weight bearing exercises with 2-3 pound dumbbells to fight against bone loss and muscle deterioration. Keep those joints strong!

There are some activities which an elderly can enjoy to help promote good health:

• Volunteer in the community
• Join social groups and recreational outings
• Join an exercise group near your house
• Cultivate or learn a new hobby
• Exercise

Elderly who find pleasure in life, who laugh often, retain a sense of humor, or look at the aging process as a natural process and not as the approach of doomsday also seem to enjoy less stress-induced illnesses and complications than those who do. Elderly who age gracefully and rely on the benefits of a healthy, well-balanced diet, regular exercise and a good belly laugh everyday feel better, play longer and enjoy life more than those who shut themselves into their homes and sit.  It is all about the attitude!

For more information on exercises focusing on strength, flexibility and balance, click here.

Indoor games to be played alone

Electronic video games like pinball, solitaire, snake and ladder, wii exercise games all test the elderly their response rate and brain function.

Studies show that video games that encourage physical activity also help with depression, sense of place and relevancy. At the Gerontological Society of America's Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans late last year, Patricia Kahlbaugh, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Southern Connecticut State University presented a study that showed that even just a few sessions with the Wii led to improved balance, coordination and strength, and could help prevent falls among elders. 

The wii-programme has also been known to be used for rehabilitation therapy internationally and locally.

Indoor games to be played in groups

Ball Roll

How to play:

1. Have a long table.
2. Gather the elderly patients with dementia to sit around it.
3. When someone’s name is called, he/she has to roll the ball to someone else.
4. If someone has trouble playing, ask other more capable elderly members to help him/her by keeping the ball rolling.

How it helps: Elderly with dementia can improve their coordination, focus and allows them to interact with one another. The elderly members who are more capable of being assigned ‘leader roles’ will allow them to take up more responsibility and they will have a sense of accomplishment.

Bargain Hunter’s Shop and Snip

How to play:

1. Collect newspapers with sales advertisements.
2. Pass the elderly patients one advertisement each.
3. Ask them to search for a list of items like car, clothes, TV, camera, etc.
4. They have to cut out each item and place it in their own box.
5. The person who finds the most items on the list wins.

How it helps: Elderly with dementia will be encouraged to share their clippings to promote teamwork. The snipped items can also be used for art activities like creating a montage or poster.

Memory Card Game

memory game

How to play:

1. Prepare a stack of playing or matching picture cards.
2. Shuffle the cards and spread them all over the table, with the back facing up.
3. Each elderly patient can flip two cards.
4. If they manage to get a pair/match, they can continue to flip and keep the cards.
5. When they stop getting a pair/match, the other elderly patients will continue.
6. The one with the most cards, win.

How it helps: This helps the elderly train their brain function and improve their memory.  


How to play:

1. Prepare a stack of playing or matching picture cards.
2. Elderly patients can sort the playing cards by suits, checkers, puzzle pieces by color and coins.
3. This game will engage the elderly patient for hours and you are only limited by your creativity.

How it helps: Helps elderly patients make sense of the cards and trains their memory. This is also a good initiative for young people to interact and play with the elderly.

Jigsaw Puzzle

How to play:

1. Gather a group of elderly patients to put together jigsaw puzzle.
2. The team which manages to put together the jigsaw within the shortest time wins.

How it helps: Promotes team work and analytical skills.

Large Tic Tac Toe

How to play:

1. An especially large game surface can be created by taking a white board either on a stand or set on a table or lap, and sectioning off the squares with bright tape. This makes a permanent grid. The squares can be very large, even four or five inches across.
2. Then erasable markers can be used for hours of fun. You can blow up a tic tac toe grid at a local printer, then trace mark it off onto your white board. You’ll get instant and easy perfect squares without the hassle of measuring.
3. The elderly patient has to win by having ‘o’ or ‘x’ in the following patterns:


How it helps: This competitive game allows participant to battle their wits against each other and stimulate the brain function.

Name That Tune

How to play:
1. Play an oldie song, at any part of it.
2. The team who guesses the title of the song correctly wins the game.

How it helps: This will help boost the memory of the elderly patient and evoke precious memories. 


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