Imagine homeschool mom meets dementia caregiver. What do you get? “Fun Brain Games for Adults”
A new activity book for those with cognitive impairments including those in stages 4-5 of dementia. Here’s how it came about….
I homeschooled my seven children through high school. After the youngest graduated and headed off to college, my husband and I were ready to enjoy our empty nest. God had a different plan.
Three years ago I became responsible for a family member who suffers from dementia due to Alzheimer’s. After a year-long court battle, I was appointed Guardian and Conservator by the court. I moved “E” to an Assisted Living Facility near our home where she was happy and doing well until the Covid lockdown and isolation caused E to lose much of her already diminishing cognition and physical strength. Ron and I decided to move her into our home last fall.
To help E adjust to her new home, I arranged for Home Health Speech, Physical, and Occupational Therapies.
Knowing two hours per week was not enough to maintain any physical or cognitive gains made during therapy sessions, I tried to copy the exercises and activities the therapists did on days they did not come.
To implement the PT and OT parts of therapy, I encouraged E to help with housekeeping like sweeping, laundry, and dusting. We did a chair exercise class on YouTube. I posted signs on doors in the house to help her find her way around. I took her her to the store and on other errands with me. Those were easy, and E grew stronger. She quickly learned her way around our home.
Speech Therapy was different; I wasn’t sure how to help E regain the words and cognition she’d lost. I listened and observed as the Speech Therapist worked with E. I tried to find resources at the local school supply store and online. Everything was either to difficult for E or featured silly, childish illustrations. Finding almost nothing appropriate, I tapped into my years of experience as a homeschool mom and created dozens of worksheets for E that used the same types of exercises the Speech Therapist did during their sessions: Finish the Common Phrase, Picture Matching, Word Matching, Mazes, Simple Math, and Word Searches. E loved the worksheets and made great progress using them.
One morning E was working on her “paperwork” (as she called it) when the Speech Therapist arrived. “Where did you get these?” the therapist asked. When I told her I had made them, she exclaimed, “These are perfect! I want copies! I NEED these for my other clients. There’s nothing like these out there.”
The Therapist encouraged me publish the worksheets and make them available to other caregivers and clinicians. Thus, “Fun Brain Games For Adults” came into being.
Each workbook has more than 100 exercises including:
- Word Search
- Finish the Phrase
- I Spy
- Color and Tell
- Create the Compound Word
- Identify the Items
- What Comes Next
- And much more!
Perfect for people with moderate dementia (Stages 4-5) and developmental disabilities, these exercises are fun and engaging.
- Large Print
- Clean lines
- Simple, clear instructions
- A variety of activities with varying difficulty
Each page can be done independently, but many are designed to encourage engagement between the person and caregivers. For example, “Color and Tell” pages provide a picture to color and questions a caregiver or family member may ask about the picture and the person’s life history. A picture of a farm accompanies questions about what animals may live on that farm and whether the person ever lived on a farm.
“Bonus Activities” encourage the person to “find these items in your home,” adding an Occupational Therapy component.
Note regarding Solutions: There is no Solutions section in the back of the workbook. Most pages – such as mazes, word searches, and math- are easy enough that no solution page is needed. Many pages have a “Word Bank” which acts as a Solution. Some questions do not have one right answer; they encourage the person to think and answer according to their life experience. For those pages where a Solution is appropriate, you will find “Possible Answers” upside down at the bottom of the page.
Kathleen B. Duncan is not a professional nor licensed therapist. She is a loving caregiver and homeschool mom who used her resources and experience to create tools to help her person with dementia.