Using the concepts described in our Part 1 & 2 articles on Tailoring Individual Activities for People with Dementia, let’s take a simple example of an activity most people are very familiar with – Scrabble or its modern day version, Bananagrams. Most adults have played scrabble sometime in their lives so it ticks the ‘familiar old skills’ box. For many people with dementia their ability to recognise words and letters remains intact long after verbal language begins to falter. Likewise, many people are able to read aloud in a more fluent way than their spoken language so it is worth giving it a try and see how it works. For people who are struggling with visual issues remember to play on a contrasting uncluttered surface so the tiles are easier to see.
Remember the principles of realistic expectations, working at the persons pace and concentration skills, praise and encouragement not criticism, and enjoyment over being perfect.
Below are some tips for how you can grade or adapt scrabble to make it an activity you can use with anyone living with a diagnosis of mild to moderate or moderate to severe dementia. These grading principles also apply to other board games like Rummikub, Connect 4, Jenga, Pick Up Sticks etc.
Give it a go. Let us know how it works. We love the feedback we get from families on what they are doing to keep people living with dementia active, engaged and enjoying themselves during this challenging time!