Anything But Bingo

Resources to enhance the daily life of people living with dementia

I Spy game for people living with dementia 

This is a very quick post today; partly as the topic doesn't really warrant a long discussion and partly as the dog is waiting for a walk!! Today's offering is also an untested one. I plan to try using it at work this week and will report back but in the meantime I thought you might like to try it too.

I spy, as a traditional verbal game, may well be beyond the capabilities of someone with a dementia that is affecting their concentration, short term memory and language skills. However I have put together a pictoral version which should address some of those difficulties. The printable sheet I have added below doesn't have "ISpy" as a visible title as I felt this may offend an adult who might see it as a childish game. I will be refering to this as a word game which should be more acceptable.

I will be trying this game with a couple of the people I work with who have more advanced dementia but still have some verbal skills. I will be watching carefully for any signs of distress if the person really can't find the words (anomia), and I will also reiterate that pointing at the picture will do just fine, they don't need to be able to name the object out loud.

If this is successful and enjoyed I will make some more. So let me know how you get on with it and check back for more information.

Printable ISpy sheet

Posted by Jenny Trott Sunday, January 24, 2016 12:39:00 PM

An easier way to knit 

One of the most common skills that seems to be lost amongst (mostly) women I work with, as their dementia progresses is knitting. This can be because of physical difficulties like arthritis but most often due to a lack of confidence of ability in this complex task. The actual knitting; putting the needle in, taking the wool around, pulling the needle through and pushing the stitch off are second nature, like a riding a bike. However following a pattern or even remembering which stitch you are knitting can be daunting and a game changer. 

Bearing this in mind I was excited to come across a different way to work with wool / yarn that is straightforward. More importantly this technique can easily be shared between two people, allowing a partner to assist if it is too complex for an individual on their own; something you just can't do with traditional knitting.

Knitting looms aren't new, I can remember using a knitting doll when I was a child. This version is bigger and so easier to use for someone who finds fine motor control difficult, and the loom can be made from items that you will have in the house, or can get easily and at low cost. Once I started researching home-made looms I found lots of versions online, many made from cardboard tubes, or even a tissue box. My first trial run was with a cardboard tube and, unless you have a very thick postal tube to work with they just aren't up to the physical handling that a loom has to withstand whilst knitting. So this is my own version using a tin can.

 

Making  a knitting loom

You will need: an empty tin can, scissors, 2 elastic bands, Duct tape (or similar heavy duty tape), 8 large (15cm) lollipop sticks.

(Follow the link above, or here to find lollipop sticks)

 

What to do:

1. Open tin using a tin opener at both ends (even if the tin has a ring pull) so that you don't’ get sharp edges. Empty contents and carefully and thoroughly clean and dry the tin.

2. Use the Duct tape around the top and bottom edges of the tin to cover any remaining sharp edges. Only go to the next step if you are happy that the edges are not sharp and the tin is safe to use.

3. Put the two elastic bands around the tin. One by one place the lollipop sticks around the tin under the elastic bands. Space them out evenly and so that about 3cm of the stick stands above the top edge of the tin (some of the stick will also hang over the bottom edge).

4. Once you are happy that the lollipop sticks are in the right place wrap Duct tape around the tin making sure it has stuck well to both the sticks and also the tin between the sticks. Now your loom is ready!

 

It really is that straightforward and it should withstand a fair bit of use.

Tip:

This could easily be made as an activity itself. The lollipop sticks often seem to have small nicks and splinters along their sides so a bit of sanding paper does the trick. Some of the gentlemen I work with like doing this job as it is a familiar task and is clearly helping to work towards a specific outcome. 

So now you want to know how to use it?! I have detailed instructions below and I have also added a PDF at the bottom of the page so you can print out instructions to keep with the loom. If it still isn't clear then a quick 'Google' of "knitting loom videos" will provide you with some help.

 

How to use the knitting loom

1. Drop the free end of the wool through the centre of the loom so that it hangs about 10cm below the bottom edge. Then wrap the wool clockwise round one of the sticks and take it around the back of that stick and the back of the stick to its right.

2. Then loop the wool clockwise around this stick; around its back, and then the back of the stick to its right. 

3. Continue this around the whole loom; "behind two sticks and then loop it around, behind two sticks and then loop it around" and so on. It should then look like this:

4. Repeat for a second time around the loom.

5. If you look at the outside of the loom you will see two loops around each stick. Start 'knitting' at the first stick to the right of where you last looped over your wool. Take the bottom loop of the two and take it over the top of the loop above it and drop it over the back of the stick. Repeat this all the way around the loom moving right each time. Once you have finished that round of knitting give the yarn hanging out the bottom of the loom a little tug to pull it down a little.

6. When you have worked your way all round the loom and you are left with only single loops on each stick you need to wind the wool around again, just like you did at the beginning. i.e. "behind two sticks and then loop it around, behind two stick and then loop it around".... You might want to push the two loops down on each stick before proceeding.

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 and you will start to see your 'knitting' coming through the bottom of the loom. Keep going until you have knitted enough. 

8. To finish off stop 'knitting when you have one loop on each stick. The take one loop and move it onto the stick to its right. Loop the bottom loop over the top one. Repeat; each time you are freeing up one more stick. Continue until you have only one loop on one stick. Cut the yarn, take the loop off the final stick and pass the end of the wool through it. Pull tight to make a knot.

 

Tip:

If this activity needs to be simplified further the care partner can do the winding preparation for each round of the loom and then assist the person with dementia to loop the wool over. My photos show me doing the 'looping' with my fingers. It can also be done with a crochet hook. In fact I found that the easiest way to do it is to hold the loom so that the person is pulling the loop towards them, like this:

 

I have added a free PDF file of the instructions for using the loom so please do print them off and keep them with your loom.

 How to use your knitting loom - PDF

The only thing that remains is to decide how to use your wonderful knitting. A scarf is the obvious idea but I've also seen it used for a bobble hat ... get creative!!

 

Posted by Jenny Trott Monday, January 11, 2016 12:55:00 PM Categories: Activities Alzheimers Craft Montessori

5 simple cards games for someone living with dementia 

If there is a pack of cards to hand then there are a multitude of games to be played. Like jokes, I can never remember a card game when I need one so this post is in no way altruistic; it is a list that I know I will use myself. Adapt each games as you need to, if you have the luxury of an extra person encourage them to assist the player with dementia as much or as little as is necessary. Sometimes all that is required is a gentle but regular reminder of the rules or to keep an eye on whose turn it is.

If the person you are playing with has a poor sight you might want to invest in some large print playing cards or extra large playing cards.

 

If holding a bunch of cards has become difficult you can get attractive wooden card holders

Snap

Of course the most simple and well known game. You can play this with 2-multiple players. The dealer deals the entire pack of cards out face down between all the players. Then, starting with the player to the left of the dealer, and in turn, each person lays down the top card from their pile into a new pile (the discard pile) in the centre of the table. If the card being laid matches the card laid down by the previous player all players must say "Snap". The first person to say "snap" wins all the cards in the discard pile and play starts again. The winner is the player who collects all the cards.

 

Go Fish

The dealer deals all the cards.  If there are two or three players, each player is dealt seven cards. If there are more people taking part, each player is dealt five cards. The remaining cards are placed face down in a pile. This is the “fish pond.”

Each player sorts their cards into groups of the same number or suit (i.e. group of threes or group of kings), making sure not to show anyone. The person to the left of the dealer starts the game by asking any another player for cards that will match his hand. For example, if they have two threes, she will ask the other player for threes. If the other player has these cards, he must hand them over. The same person continues asking the same player for more cards until the player does not have the cards he wants. If the player does not have the right cards, he can tell the requester to “Go fish.” The requester then has to take one card from the “fish pond.” The player who told him to “Go fish” becomes the new requester.

Anyone who collects all four cards of a set (i.e. all four eights or all four Queens) puts them face down in front of him. The winner is the first person to have no single cards left, only complete sets. If two people run out of cards together, the player with the most sets wins the game.

 

War

This is a two player game. All cards are dealt to the two players and kept face down. Neither player must look at their cards. Both players turn over the top card of their piles and put them face up in the centre of the table, beside the other player’s card. Whoever has turned over the highest ranking card takes both cards and adds them to the bottom of his pile. This continues until two cards of the same value (i.e. two sevens) are put down together. The game is now in a state of “war.” To continue, both players take two new cards and put one face down on top of the card they have already placed in the middle and one face up. Whoever puts down the higher ranking face up card wins all six. The game is won by the player who collects all of the cards.

 

Beggar my Neighbour

Deal out all the cards between the two players.

Each player takes it in turns to turn one over from the top of their pile and put it on the table between them (as with snap!) If you turn over a Jack, Queen, King or Ace, the other player must put down more cards as follows:

Jack - one card
Queen - two cards
King - three cards
Ace - four cards

If no picture cards are turned over whilst this "payment" is being made, you collect all the cards from the table and put them at the bottom of your pile.
However, if a picture card WAS turned over, your opponent immediately stops their 'pay out' of cards, and YOU have to pay them by putting down one, two, three or four cards, according to the rank, as above.

The winner is the player who collects all the cards.

I would recommend printing / writing out the "payments" as a visual reminder during the game.

 

Pelmenism / Concentration / Match

Maybe not a card game in the truest sense of the word but even so, one worth mentioning. There are some nice, adult themed match games on the market, or if you are feeling creative you could make your own.

            

You place all the cards face down on the table and each playing takes a turn to turn over two cards. If they match the player keeps the matching pair. If the cards don't match the player must place the cards back down on the table in the same place. The aim of the game is to remember which cards your opponents turn over and where they are so that you can match pairs when it is your turn to play.

This game can be adapted to the short term memory impairment of the people playing by reducing the number of cards you use.

 

Enjoy playing!

 

 

Posted by Jenny Trott Saturday, January 02, 2016 5:40:00 PM Categories: Activities Games Toys

               Who am I?

 

Jenny

I am a forty-something mother of two.

I love learning and creating, and do

what I can to improve the well-being

of people living with dementia.

I have worked in residential dementia

care for a few years and hope that I

have something useful to share.

 

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