Bringing Joy, Through Games, To The Elderly
Learning Through Games
When I was working in Colorado with seniors in a small retirement home. I decided to develop games to increase their knowledge and memories of the past in a fun way. I developed a wheel with four categories, food, music, history and movies---with things from the past that they all might remember; then I added more fun trivia to the questions, so they were also learning new things. The results were wonderful! Residents, that before were quiet and introverted, seemed to blossom as they remembered things from their past schooling and could answer the questions. To make the game more fun, I made paper fun money for them to win with each correct answer to the questions. At the end of several months, they could use their funny money to buy things at our auction.
Questions Designed For Those With Dementia and Alzheimer's
The residents in this retirement home ranged from those that were still mentally sharp and able to function quite well, to those with some to severe dementia and Alzheimer's. The wonderful thing about this game, is it could be adapted to all of the learning stages of the residents. Most of the music questions, the way they were structured, could be answered by even those with Alzheimer's---for their memories of songs from long ago were still quite good, and they would easily continue the words to many of the songs that they had learned by heart. The cards that went with the wheel---ranged in difficulty from easy to difficult--so there was a challenge for each of the seniors playing the game that could be appropriate for their particular stage of learning.
Living Longer ( Or Happier ) Through Learning
My mother lived to be in her late nineties and I feel that the main difference in her increased longevity was her continuous desire to keep learning and growing. She was still attending classes at the local senior centers and colleges in her later years. She enjoyed writing and even wrote two books in those years. Because she had cancer at one stage of her life, she donated hundreds of her little books---"Look To The Sky", to women that also suffered with breast cancer and helped uplift them with her inspirational words. I believe that she lived longer because she kept learning and maintained her zest for life. I can't help but believe that keeping our minds active and creative helps us to live longer and happier. This is why I felt it was so important for seniors in retirement homes, and also those living with family members to keep learning and using their time here on earth to better themselves and the lives of others. I watched the residents in this home that I worked in change to become happier and more excited about life through learning; and I agree with the old adage; "You are never too old to learn."