From classics like chess and Scrabble to family favourites such as Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit, we all have fond memories playing our favourite board games with our nearest and dearest.
Board games are not only great fun but provide a wealth of benefits, especially for the elderly and those living with dementia.
Studies suggest regularly playing board games can help prevent cognitive decline in elderly people. Players tend to exercise their logical thinking as they’re often considering future strategic moves, which is believed to boost cognitive function.
We all love that feeling when we reveal our winning hand in cards or pointing at the dice when you get the exact number needed to win. Throughout a game, we all make actions like these that are classed as non-verbal communication, which is helpful for keeping the mind sharp.
Games are a great way for the elderly and people living with dementia to enjoy social interactions and to reduce anxiety. Many studies also indicate people living with dementia who socially engage regularly can experience a delayed cognitive decline and are at lower risk of developing memory-loss symptoms.
Laughter is a great tonic
Take a moment and think of a time when you played a game with your family and friends…we’re guessing it involved a lot of giggles and laughter?
Having a good giggle is great for the mind, body and soul as it releases endorphins, which lowers blood pressure and stress levels. Reducing stress and anxiety not only benefits the mind, but also improves the immune system.
As we get older, it becomes more difficult to do simple tasks involving our fine motor skills, such as picking up small objects. Moving a game piece, rolling a dice or shuffling cards can help the elderly maintain dexterity.
Choosing dementia-friendly games
Playing our favourite childhood board games can help bring back treasured memories. This is the same for people with dementia, as they tend to retain more long-term memories than short-term.
Try to pick games with simple rules like Snakes and Ladders or dominoes and be sure to avoid games with lots of small parts that may be too difficult for the elderly to move.
As part of our Magic Moments Together activities programme, we ensure our residents continue playing the games they enjoy by making it easier for them. Whether we simplify rules or provide bigger game pieces, we make sure all our residents continue to do the things they love.
Other brain-stimulating activities
Whilst we’ve focussed on board games you will also be pleased to know that other gentle activities are also great for the mind. Common pursuits that are rewarding and stimulating include, reading, drawing and painting, playing an instrument or doing crossword puzzles.
Four Seasons Health Care is one of the UK’s largest independent health care providers with over 180 care homes across the UK; find a home near you.
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