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Care Group Newsletters

More than Just Fun and Games


Participating in the McCormick Day Program may seem like it’s all about fun and games, but there’s certainly more to the program than that. Even the table games that we engage the clients in are more complex than what you may think. These games can vary in cognitive complexity: Some may simply be games of chance, while others may require some strategic thinking, answering short questions or responding to conversation starters.

Many can require number, colour, shape or letter recognition or matching, and they can often can involve math. There is also a physical component involved in reaching for small items, such as dice, and the dexterity required to grasp, shake and roll them. This action can even test one’s reflexes if they need to stop the dice from flying off the edge of the table!  In our program, verbal communication can be limited by either language or cognition, but games can often be understood through demonstration or slight assistance, and allow others to engage in the program as participants, supporters or observers.

Many clients and care partners have grown up playing various games, whether they be cards, dice, or board or trivia games. Are you sometimes looking for an activity that your person one can participate in to pass the time or to engage in with the family? Many popular games like Yahtzee can be adapted to enable individuals with dementia at various stages to participate. In the program, rather than using the traditional Yahtzee score card, we have adapted the game: We roll for poker hands (i.e., a pair, full house, small straight) and rather than keeping score, we award Monopoly money. The more difficult the poker hand, the more money awarded. This game can often engage a full group, who cheer on and help the roller decide which dice to keep and which to roll again. After a number of rounds, the player with the most Monopoly money is the winner. Other dice games that we often play are Shake and Roll; Left, Right, Centre; Shake Loose a Memory; High Roller or Stuck in the Mud.

We even have our own outdoor Yahtzee sets called “Yardzee,” which is a set of five wooden dice that our clients helped to sand, paint and seal. You might want to try some outdoor game sets or other games in your home, at the cottage or at the next family picnic! Playing games is not only a fun way to enjoy time together, it can also provide a great opportunity to spend time with younger family members.

Dimensions Newsletter Fall 2023