Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Playing Games Together

Photo by Jeff Norris

One of the challenges in our house is figuring out a way that Mom and our son Jeffrey can spend time together. Jeffrey is a high energy six year old who loves to run around and play games. While he also loves to watch TV with Mom, the amount of their TV watching was getting a bit excessive. So the other day, Jeffrey brought in a game to play with me and Mom. The game for this day was Zingo, which is described by the manufacturer in this way: “In this fast-paced, energetic variant of Bingo, kids get a kick out of pulling the Zinger forward to reveal two mystery tiles, and then try to be the first to call out the tiles that match the images on their cards. The first player to fill his or her card wins by yelling ‘Zingo.’” (As a side note, ThinkFun makes amazing games for all different ages and difficulty levels.)

I thought this would be an easy game to play with Mom, but even this proved to be a challenge. When you slide the “zinger” and the tiles come out, you have to quickly look at the tiles and your zingo board and see if you have a match. Jeffrey was far too quick and would always get the tiles before Mom even had a chance to look at them. And eventually, to help Mom, he would look at the tiles for her and give her a tile if it matched her board. That was sweet of him, but it did not let Mom really play the game. I explained to Jeffrey that we needed to wait to take a tile until Mom had a chance to look at them, and he tried to do that. It was difficult for him though because most games, like this one, are set up for competition. It is hard to re-teach our children that sometimes you play a game not to win, but to include everyone, so that means you may have to alter how you play. Much of living with someone with dementia, and I am sure many other illnesses or disabilities, means we need to live counter to our culture of everything being competitive and fast paced.

We had a good time playing, and everything went well, the experience just made me realize how hard it is to do even simple things when you have a group of people with varying abilities. How can we best include everyone, yet still make what we are doing fun and engaging? I think I will try puzzles next time; non-competitive, but something we can all do together.

Do any of you have games or activities that the children in your life do with you, if you have dementia, or with your loved one with dementia?


Rev. Katie


  1. One of my favorite games to play with folks of varying abilities is Cranium Whoonu?

    It's all about talking and learning from one another about silly things instead of competing.

  2. Hi Andy,
    Thanks for the suggestion. I have seen that one but never played it. That's on our list of future games now.

    Rev. Katie