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Subject: Games that help with dementia/cognitive impairment rss

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Jennifer Derrick
United States
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I have a friend who has MS, but has also been diagnosed with some cognitive impairments that the Dr.'s aren't sure whether they're coming form the MS or from early onset dementia/alzheimer's. It was suggested that she learn new things and tackle new challenges to keep her brain as active as possible. Games are one of the things that fit the bill and were suggested.

I've since loaned her my copies of Qwirkle, Blokus, Ingenious, Upwords, Boggle, and even an old copy of Memory that I dug out of my parents' attic. She's enjoyed all of them, and also enjoyed TTR, Forbidden Island and 10 days in Africa that she's played over here.

Despite it probably being helpful, she can't stand Scrabble, but she hasn't minded other word games mentioned above.

I want to get her a Christmas present. Here's what I'm thinking:

- Something different from the abstract games she's already tried. She can play those over here any time and she's already pretty good with them.

- Something with simple rules, but not too simple. Nothing that will make her feel like an idiot, but nothing that will make her frustrated (the rules for some games make me wonder if I have cognitive issues because they're so hard to figure out).

- It will help greatly if the rules are not only easily grasped, but if the rule book is well written. She isn't as able as she used to be to figure out what things mean if they're not clearly explained or if they are poorly translated.

- Something that plays well with 2 as it's usually either me and her or her and her husband. If it scales up to four, that's a plus since we all play together sometimes.

- I don't think theme is an issue as she reads a lot of fantasy and Sci-fi, as well as history.


I was thinking maybe a different entry in the 10 Days In... series, or something like Word on the Street (which I've never played). Maybe a good card game?

Please keep the price below $40, if possible. Or if you can come up with multiple games that will be under $40 so much the better as I could give her a bundle.
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Shane Larsen
United States
Salt Lake City
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Hmmm. Simple rules, deep gameplay, and 2-4:

Parade - cheap card game
Metropolys - elegant auction/area-control mechanic
Carcassonne - I'm guessing you're familiar
Ingenious - great Knizia abstract
Manhattan - I'm not sure how it plays with two
Biblios - not as "deep", but still good fun

BEST WISHES to you and your friend!
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Paul DeStefano
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Long Island
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It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
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Are then any actual physical / mental limitations to consider?
 
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Lacombe
Louisiana
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Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
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Lost Cities would be a good choice. It's currently $12 on sale at Amazon. Hey, That's My Fish! might do well. It's only $11 at Amazon. Any Carcassonne title should do well.
 
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I have been playing Earth Reborn with an elderly woman that has trouble remembering things. Since we started playing, her memory has been improving, and she has been enjoying it quite a lot.

However, the price is a bit high, ranging from 50 to 70 bucks.

I recomend it because:

-It is not abstract, it is very thematical.

-The rules are quite easy to understand, because the game uses an iconographic system, that allows the player to "read" symbols printed on different parts (board, cards, etc.) immediately making you remember a specific rule, for example: "oh, a little knife, that means close combat, oh, a little hand, that means I have to activate something."

-The rulebook is incredibly well written; it is long, but it uses a tutorial system so that you can learn the rules little by little. It has many examples, and I've only seen one typo on a range attack section example, I think.

-The game plays best with 2 players, but it also works well with 4.

-It's a good thing she likes sci-fi, because I would consider the theme of the game to be postapocalyptic sci-fi; on the history side, you can find the U.S. constitution in the game, it gives you a pretty good bonus during a turn
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Lacombe
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Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
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Stone Dwarf wrote:
I have been playing Earth Reborn with an elderly woman that has trouble remembering things. Since we started playing, her memory has been improving, and she has been enjoying it quite a lot.


Wow! Your effort / your faith in the disabled [or just elderly] is admirable, but I really can't imagine Earth Reborn being a good suggestion for a person with early onset dementia / Alzheimer's and only minimal game experience to attempt to learn on their own!
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Jennifer Derrick
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Geosphere wrote:
Are then any actual physical / mental limitations to consider?


Physically she's fine. Mentally it's more the kind of thing where she sometimes has trouble with words - getting the right word out or remembering the right word for something (which is why word games were suggested as being helpful to keep that piece of her brain active) and just sort of a general decline in her ability to remember and process information, which was why learning and remembering new information (rules, etc.) was suggested.

Some days are better than others. She's not confused or disoriented or anything like that.
 
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Lacombe
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I would suggest Zendo, as I think it would probably be genuinely helpful, but I suspect that it might get frustrating. You'd have to be very careful to only select rules as Master that are easy enough to guess / to define so as not to be overly difficult for her. It's a game about information processing.
 
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Imp Rovius
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GOSU has simple rules, plays ideally with 2, and has a decent theme that is presented in the card art more than anything else. There is quite a lot of complexity that comes from the mechanics of the cards, though. So while the rules are very easy to grasp, various strategies will take a while to develop and will depend on the players becoming more familiar with the various individual cards.

Quarriors! would probably be good. The game plays ridiculously fast (about 15 minutes) with 2 players, but would be ideal with 3 players. The rules are easy to pick up once you start playing, though the manual could be a bit better.

EDIT: Survive: Escape from Atlantis! might be another good choice.
 
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Sandra Sherwood
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I have slowly gotten my parents into gaming. Any games have to have to be easily understood or they won't play. I see several on your list that they have enjoyed. Recently, they have really enjoyed Finca (recently reprinted) and Aquädukt (OOP, but usually several in the market or even a couple on Amazon).
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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Other 10 Days in... games would be good if she really liked the one she played. Get one with ships (Europe, Americas), or perhaps the one with ships and trains (Asia), for more variety.

Jaipur is a light game that plays with some depth. Great for 2, and there is a variant for 3.

We enjoy Ra: The Dice Game as a light but interesting dice game.

More co-ops might be nice. Pandemic is the obvious choice. Many of the others might be too complicated and/or too expensive.

Maybe San Juan, if she is ok learning what the various cards do, and how the work together, over several games. I suppose one could say the same about Dominion.

I haven't played it, but Mr. Jack Pocket sounds simple yet challenging. Maybe it would be too much of a direct head-to-head cat-and-mouse mind games, though.

+1 Lost Cities
 
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