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17 Activity Ideas For Seniors

Study shows that happier seniors tend to show a decline in activities of daily living over time. Here are 17 activities to engage seniors

When we think of caregiving, it is often about ensuring that our loved ones’ physical needs such as safety, food and hygiene are met.

But, what about their psychological well-being?

A recent study shows that seniors who are more engaged socially, are less likely to show a decline in activities of daily living.

Before we lose the ability to communicate with our loved ones, it’s important for us to continually find ways to engage them.

We can change the way that we administer care by injecting fun activities into our routines.

Here are 17 activities to get you started on this journey!

Opt for Tabletop Activities

Table top activities are ideal for seniors who are less mobile as it requires very minimal upper body movement, while being easy to facilitate with a set of structured rules for the group to follow along.

Some popular table top games to play with seniors include Snakes & Ladders, Chess, Checkers or Scrabble. For the local table top games, try Hua Hee, Five Stones, Country Erasers or Kuti-Kuti.

Activities To Improve Cognitive Function

Cognitive engagement activities can serve multiple functions including serving as a positive distraction, improving moods and enhancing coping efficacy – all of which can help to enhance a senior’s wellbeing and reduce their health problems. Conditions like dementia or anxiety can be improved with memory games that challenge and improve mental alertness

1.Puzzles

Puzzles are great for self-enrichment and aiding in problem-solving skills, especially for seniors who want a sense of control and taking charge of something without the need of a caregiver by their side.

 Not forgetting that sense of accomplishment when they’ve placed in the final piece to the puzzle! When deciding which puzzles to prepare for seniors, go for easy-to-piece puzzles with pictures that are colourful, easy on the eye or familiar scenes like holidays or the different seasons.

2. Mahjong

A popular local game to keep the brain supercharged, Mahjong’s tile-matching game not only helps to regain physical agility in the arms when they rearrange or discard tiles, it also helps to keep the mind more mentally sharp while aiming to complete a set. It’s a low-cost leisure activity that is great for nurturing social interactions and mental training.

3. Card Games

Card games are so versatile, involving as many people at once and can be played anywhere. It’s a great way to socialise, easy to pick up and keep the mind razor-sharp. Some of the more popular games to try include Bridge, Jin Rummy, Go Fish, or local ones like Huahee Matchoonary, Huahee Snap, Happy Family or Old Maid.

Play classic memory matching, charades and storytelling games with a local twist. 26 beautifully sketched local designs such as the Kueh Tutu, Clogs and Tingkat in four different game plays.
Play classic memory matching, charades and storytelling games with a local twist. 26 beautifully sketched local designs such as the Kueh Tutu, Clogs and Tingkat in four different game plays.

When choosing card games for seniors, you might want to consider using large-sized playing cards with large prints or fonts that is friendly for the eyes and hands of seniors.

4. Draw On Your Head Game

As strange as the name of the game sounds, this is one of the more exciting activities that will be sure to energise the group and get everyone laughing no matter how great their drawing skills are.

Plus, it’s a great game to improve the motor skills and hand-eye coordination. To begin, each participant will need to hold a paper plate on their heads and follow along to the instructions given to draw! 

For example:

– Draw a line

– Draw three circles on top of the line

– Draw a sun on the top left

Activities For Creativity and Freedom of Expression

Therapeutic recreation can contribute to the health and happiness of seniors, especially when it involves their commitment, personal views and meaningful affirmation of valued self-attributes.

5. String Art Ice-cream

Study shows that happier seniors tend to show a decline in activities of daily living over time. Here are 17 activities to engage seniors

DIY activities especially art that you can take home is a fun way to inculcate your own personal flair while at the same time creating something tangible you can share with family or friends, or as a gift idea. This string art ice-cream can be cultivated as a month-long project, where individuals can regularly come in to string in each segment based on the colour scheme they’ve chosen for the ice-cream. Though this activity requires more preparation and careful guidance, it’s a really great activity to showcase one’s skills and aptitude.

Resource: https://www.amotherthing.com/diy-string-art-ice-cream-cone-with-template/

6.Painting

Painting is a great diversion activity for seniors and a channel for expressing their inner most thoughts and emotions. Besides improving hand-eye coordination and serving as an occupational therapy, creating art can help with self-empowerment too. Types of painting activities include acrylic, watercolour or oil painting.

For seniors with moderate to severe dementia with issues using a paint brush, you can perhaps hand them a sponge or get them to engage in finger painting.

7.Cross-stitching

A fun and easy activity to learn, cross-stitching is great for improving one’s concentration skills and hand eye coordination.

 It’s a great project that can keep individuals occupied for months while patiently stitching the thread onto the canvas. There are varying cross-stitch kits with patterns, shapes or photos, designed for both the elderly and beginners.

8. Folding Origami

Complete with a set of instructions and a multitude of crafts you can make, folding origami is a practical activity that can be repurposed as wall art.

It’s a wonderful hobby that can be undertaken solo or in a group with many benefits – resulting in a three dimensional form with just a piece of paper!

It also hones imagination and creativity skills as they create their colourful masterpieces.

For Greater Social Interaction & Relationship Building

Having company is often overlooked – since most of their day-to-day needs or recovery is done in isolation. One of the most effective ways we can help to alleviate their feelings of isolation or frustration is by simply showing up and providing companionship in a group setting!

9. Pass The Cling Wrap Ball

Study shows that happier seniors tend to show a decline in activities of daily living over time. Here are 17 activities to engage seniors

This group activity is an easy game to start while having the excitement of a prize at the end! Before you start this game, make the cling wrap ball first!

Prepare loads of cling wrap and prizes.

Instructions:

  1. Start by wrapping one prize up.
  2. Add another prize in the second layer
  3. Continue adding other layers and other prizes in between the layers

You can make it as big as you want!

Start by getting everyone seated in a circle and give one person a cling wrap ball, while the person to their left has a bowl and dice.

The objective – completely unwrap the cling wrap ball to reveal a prize, while the person on the left tries to roll doubles to get their turn!

There are many variations to this game and it’s ton of fun that requires very little lower mobility.

Resource: https://musthavemom.com/saran-wrap-ball-game-fun-party-game-idea-for-kids-or-adults/

10. Drum Circles

A fun idea to entice movement and rhythm in a group setting is by oragnising drum circles!

 Besides the rhythmic motion to dance or groove to, playing musical instruments can help to improve their mental alertness while reigniting their passion for music.

 It’s also a great idea to bring in various types of drums like bongos, buffalo drums, congas – utilising the different sounds, shapes or percussion instruments that everyone can try.

You can get seniors to make their own shaker instruments by putting beans into sealed water bottles too!

Resource: http://drumcircles.net/seniordrumcircle.html

11. Pic-a-box

‘Pic’-a-box’ is a fun activity that focuses on self-discovery and reminiscing through shared experiences.

Start by giving one person in the room a box filled with random pictures of the past, and get them to pull out a random picture and share anything that comes to mind.

For example, pictures of old buildings or kampong estates, food like kueh lapis or ang ku kueh, or games like gasing (spinning top) or five stones — remembering the things we enjoyed in our younger days are often fond memories to look back on.

This game can be done with Huahee Matchoonary too.

12. Horse Racing Game

This rendition of the horse racing game is a fun activity for the elderly in nursing homes or assisting living. Start by having everyone in a line as the ‘horses’ in the race.

 Then, give each each person the chance to throw a live-sized dice, followed by moving the number of spaces corresponding to the number on the dice.

 This is followed through by the rest of the group, until someone reaches the finishing line first!

13. Name 5

The ‘Name 5’ game is a simple mind-stretching game that serves as a great ice-breaker game with no set up required.

Start by giving a subject, and the group has to name five items for that subject! Some ideas for categories include favourite food, MRT stations, places in Singapore etc.

Other variations of this game is called ‘Word Chain’, where the player starts by saying a word, and the group has to name another word that relates to the previous word ie. (Ocean – beach –  sandcastles – mat – picnic – apples).

14. What’s In The Bag?

Study shows that happier seniors tend to show a decline in activities of daily living over time. Here are 17 activities to engage seniors

This is a great guessing game that can help to engage train problem-solving skills. Choose a colourful bag and put in random objects to guess like coins, utensils, keys, clothes pegs etc. You can also switch it up and place in objects that are reminiscent from their past for a more meaningful experience.

Resource: https://www.goldencarers.com/whats-in-the-bag/4702/

 Exercise activities

Light exercises such as going for walks, aqua jogging or seated chair exercises have multiple benefits like improved mobility, joint flexibility, agility, balance and much more. Here are some other activities to make it more fun and exciting!

Big groups can engage in these activities that require more upper body movement.

15. Balloon Volleyball

The rules are simple, keep the balloon in the air!

Besides challenging their agility, balloon volleyball is an engaging activity that can help seniors relive their younger days and evoke feelings of pure child-like joy.

 It’s a fun activity that fosters relationships while improving the mental and emotional well-being.

16. Seated Noodle Hockey or Floorball

A twist from the classic sport, Noodle Hockey/Floorball can be played seated making it ideal for seniors with low mobility. Start by giving out different coloured pool noodle floating aids to each team (to serve as the sticks) which you can get from Daiso, and line the participants in a row on each side.

You can use soft plastic beach balls or balloons as the puck, and get each team to score a goal at the end! To make it even more exciting, toss in a few balls or balloons at once and watch the adrenaline kick in!

Resource: http://silverinnings.blogspot.com/2009/08/noodle-hockey-keeps-seniors-in-game.html

17. Beanbag Toss

Prepare different sized baskets and assign points to each basket. The smaller baskets would be more difficult and thus, have higher points.

In this game of bean bag toss, seniors can score points by getting their bean bags to land in the basket with varying target sizes. It can be played both standing or sitting and are particularly suitable for those who may not be intrinsically motivated to get some exercise.

With so many different ability levels, it can be easily adjusted for seniors to work on different skills like balance, upper lifting, hand balance and target aiming.

Featured Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

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These Singaporeans create games for a living

These Singaporeans create games for a living

While the whole world is fixated on their mobile devices, there’s still a group of Singaporeans hoping to encourage human interaction without screens.

They are creating card games and board games for their community.

These games may be of different forms and game plays. But, they all hope to encourage interaction in some way or another.

So, what are these games and who are the individuals who still insist on creating paper products?

I’m one of these individuals and I’m very happy that I’m not alone.

Because I work on card games for seniors, I decided to start searching for other local game creators.

I asked them a few questions. So, here it goes:

Daniel Tan, 22, Founder of Limpeh Says 

Daniel Tan Yong Heng (left), Founder, Limpeh Says
Daniel Tan Yong Heng (left) and Gabriel Leow, Founders of Limpeh Says. Pic Credit: The Straits Times.

Most Singaporeans have heard of Limpeh Says, a card game that puts a local spin on Cards Against Humanity.

What you may not know is that the game started off as Daniel’s school project while he was studying at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

1. How did you get started with Limpeh Says? 

It was initially made for a school project.

After the assessment, I wanted to show it off a bit to my friends on Twitter, but it gained traction really quick and within a few days it was shared on a few local buzz sites.

This really pushed me to make the game a reality, and Gabriel (co-founder of Play Nation, and my partner in Limpeh Says) reached out to me, giving some advise purely out of goodwill.

We met a for a few times, and I decided that he has the knowledge and experience in this field that I don’t.

I then offered him a partnership. We set out to create the best product we could.

2. How long has the journey been and how has it evolved along the way?

Before we launched it on Kickstarter, It took us a little over a year to refine the card game.

It was previously called “Cards Against Humanity: Singapore Edition.”

But for legal reasons, as well as not wanting to be associated with CAH, we slowly evolved into Limpeh Says.

During the process of refining, we also trippled the number of cards in the game.

The design changes, mainly our logo, was also refined over that period of time.

3. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was Kickstarter.

We were both new to the platform, and we had no idea how well our campaign would run.

We initially ran for a $20,000 funding goal, which a few Kickstarter veterans were wary about.

But even if we hit exactly that amount, we would still be at a loss.

We really just wanted to see it come to fruition, so we brought the goal as low as we could.

Surprisingly, we hit $20k in a little over 2 hours, and went 600% on the campaign.

I tried my best to spice up the campaign page the best I could do, while Gabriel worked hard liaising with different companies to get some promotional posts up.

4. What are your upcoming plans for Limpeh Says?

Currently, we are on a hiatus due to our own commitments.

But I am looking forward to GE2019! (His next project is likely to be launched then)

If you’re interested in Limpeh Says, you can pre-order at https://limpehsays.com/

Nicholas Pang, 37, Founder of Starknicked

Nick Pang, Founder, Star Nicked created Smol Tok. Smol Tok is a game aimed at getting people to have more intimate conversations.
Nick Pang, Founder, Starknicked created Smol Tok. Smol Tok is a game aimed at getting people to have more intimate conversations.

Smol tok is everything that cards against humanity is not.

Nicholas created smol tok as an ice-breaking and community-building card game designed to grow meaningful conversations, trust, and relationships – minus the bullshit.

Every card is a question, and every question is a peek into what makes us human.

1. How did you get started with smol tok?

I was reading viktor frankl’s man’s search for meaning, everyone should read this book at pivotal moments in life.

I was heavily inspired and influenced by his teachings about how the search for meaning and purpose is essential for every human being to not only survive but thrive, and find happiness in life.

Questions are an important tool in this endeavour, and I had created a bunch of questions for myself as a personal heuristic.

Someone I knew saw it and incepted the idea of making it accessible to others who might need it.

I experimented with some designs and put it in a shop. It slowly grew from there organically.

2. How long has the journey been and how has it evolved along the way?

I was still working at my day job when I released smol tok in 2015.

Did it at night and on the weekends in 2015 and 2016. Passion project really.

I wasn’t looking to start a company or a line of products. Just wanted to make stuff that helped people like me find meaning and purpose in their relationships, work, life, etc.

But, sometime in 2016, I took a 2 month long break and went on a backpacking pilgrimage.

The extended time away from what we consider normal in Singapore brought increasing clarity to me.

I decided I needed to redesign and reprogramme my life, and reorient it towards work that was truly meaningful, that I could uniquely carry out.

I returned to Singapore, quit my day job, and started to feel my way forward with smol tok.

Since then, I’ve released one new deck every year, with plans to do so for the next 6 years.

The whole creative process is life-giving to me, and I have a blank slate to create in Smol Tok.

I’ve also met many like-minded and talented people along the way, and together with some of them, are working to spin off and create other kinds of meaningful games and content.

3. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

An ongoing challenge is getting folks to get into the habit of asking questions about their own lives with the intention of getting clearer about what truly gives them meaning and purpose, and not simply cruise along on autopilot.

The Singapore narrative that we’re schooled in is based on a pretty narrow definition of success – the material sort.

I suspect many folks feel trapped in this narrative; some time away on retreat and a few honest questions directed at oneself could help folks write their own narrative, one that’s uniquely tailored to them as individuals.

4. What are your upcoming plans for Starknicked? (It’s pronounced ‘stark naked’)

Expansion. Building a community of folks who seek greater meaning and purpose in life.

Also, there are five more decks of smol tok I need to bring to maturity, including one on work, one on travel, and one on ecology.

Plus a new family of card games rooted in my family’s Peranakan heritage.

I don’t want to give away too much. Stay tuned!

If you’re interested in Smol Tok, you can order at: https://www.starknicked.com/ 

 Tan Shao Han, 37, and Alanna Yeo, 34, Co-founders of Curious Chimeras

Tan Shao Han, Founder, Curious Chimeras
Tan Shao Han, Co-founder, Curious ChimerasAlanna Yeo, Founder, Curious ChimerasAlanna Yeo, Co-founder, Curious Chimeras

The Curious Chimeras focuses on the art of storytelling via unique experiences that encompass strong narrative, tabletop games, art, and culture.

Through Curious Chimeras experiences and games, players can adventure fearlessly, engage in meaningful interactions with others and ultimately build a community that allows for exploration, self-discovery and the understanding of new and different perspectives.

1. How did you get started with Curious Chimeras? 

Shao: Curious Chimeras began with a passion to share the joy of roleplaying games with different people around me.

I was mostly working with kids, and enjoyed adapting and creating roleplaying games into simpler, more robust forms for their enjoyment – that was when I realized I found this process of game-making to be very fulfilling on a personal level.

That realization led me to focus on creating more games, and pushing myself into these endeavors.

Alanna: I joined Curious Chimeras because I have a passion for incorporating play and storytelling into our daily lives.

I had found it joyful to create ‘gameful’ experiences previously, for areas such as education, mental wellbeing, personal communication etc.

When Shao shared with me his vision for Curious Chimeras, I found that it was something I was immensely interested in, so here we are writing games and experiences for a living!

2. How long has the journey been and how has it evolved along the way? 

Shao: We incorporated at the beginning of 2018, and we have been operating before this as a community of playful volunteers that uses games to help kids learn and bond with one another.

In the past, we were more of a loose collective with an interest in play, while now we are more of a focused company with an emphasis on creating playable experiences.

3. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? 

Shao: Writing and publishing roleplaying games requires a lot of different skills – just like playing and running them!

I’ve had to become familiar with a lot of different skills like typesetting, graphic design, and the operations of a small business, while also reading and playing a lot of different games to get a better idea of my own visions and voice as a game maker.

As for how I overcame this – it’s just a matter of putting in lots of time, energy, and focus, I guess! 🙂

Alanna: In general, starting a business is never an easy task; immense discipline and communication is needed especially in a business run by more than one.

So far, I think Shao and I work very well together in terms of how our different skillsets complement each other, and most importantly, that the two of us are both direct and honest in the way we communicate with each other.

4. What are your upcoming plans for Curious Chimeras?

We are publishing a few roleplaying games in a mix of the Old School Revival (OSR) and narrative-driven ‘storygame’ style.

The first is “Tales of Saintrest”, a game of mythic fantasy about mortals and spirits in a world healing from a war, and we are also working on products and modules for other roleplaying engines and systems.

On the other side, we also develop and provide corporate services – we design and use roleplaying games to encourage teamwork and bonding in fun and immersive ways. Call us if you’re interested! 🙂

If you’re interested in Curious Chimeras, you can get in touch at http://www.curiouschimeras.com/

Christel Goh, 27, Founder of Play Huahee

After experiencing the pain of dementia at home, Christel Goh creates games for people and communities to engage seniors.
From right: Me and my grandma with the Play Huahee card games

Lastly, there’s also me 😛

I created Play Huahee when I experienced a lack of relevant activities in the market to engage my grandma.

Play Huahee offers the Singaporean community with localised games to engage seniors. We are also planning more games to reach communities beyond Singapore.

I devote my time to creating games to encourage early intervention for seniors.

1. How did you get started with Play Huahee?

Two years ago, my grandma showed early warning signs of dementia.

My grandpa suffered from dementia previously and my mum was very determined not to let the same happen to my grandma.

So, my mum started to research the types of food, exercises and activities that can help her condition.

I was looking for activities to engage my grandma, when I realised that there were no localised and relevant games for seniors in Singapore or for the Asian context.

So, I started to draw local food and heritage items in Singapore. This eventually led to the first version of Hua Hee card game. I  launched it on Indiegogo after that.

2. How long has the journey been and how has it evolved along the way?

Hua Hee was a very simple memory matching card game at first.

I soon introduced other ways of playing the games such as charades and pictionary. I also expanded on the range of games I had — including games like puzzles, colouring and more.

My focus was previously on creating activities for seniors. I feel that Play Huahee now stands for something bigger.

When it comes to conditions like dementia, most families only become aware of a problem much later on. They only find out about it when their seniors’ condition aggravates.

The effects of intervention are quite limited in the later stages of the condition.

Through Play HuaHee, I hope to encourage early intervention for seniors in homes/communities.

3. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge is sustainability. While we have been getting traction among various organisations, all the profits generated goes back to fund production and various operating expenses.

We need to figure out a more sustainable model for Play Huahee.

4. What are your upcoming plans for Play Huahee?

The plan is to continue creating more games and reaching out to communities beyond Singapore.

I have so many ideas that I would like to experiment with. The only constrains are resources and time.

If you’re interested in Play Huahee, you can order at: https://playhuahee.com/games-engage-seniors/

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Meet me & play HuaHee?

I am very happy to share with you that I’ve just launched two additional games!

I spent the past year experimenting on game plays and am super happy to push out the fruits of my labour.

I’m also thinking of having a session to share with you my inspiration.  And, you can test out the new Hua Hee games!

Here’s more details about the new games:

Hua Hee Colozzle

HuaHee Colozzle is a colouring and puzzle game. It comes with 15 designs of everyday items, aimed at invoking positive memories in seniors.  The designs includes flowers, seashells, leaves, snails, carrots, lemons, mushrooms, butterflies, corn, rabbits, onions, avocados, cheries and frogs.

HuaHee Colozzle is a colouring and puzzle game. It comes with 15 designs of everyday items, aimed at invoking positive memories in seniors.

The designs includes flowers, seashells, leaves, snails, carrots, lemons, mushrooms, butterflies, corn, rabbits, onions, avocados, cheries and frogs.

HuaHee Colozzle is a colouring and puzzle game. It comes with 15 designs of everyday items, aimed at invoking positive memories in seniors.  The designs includes flowers, seashells, leaves, snails, carrots, lemons, mushrooms, butterflies, corn, rabbits, onions, avocados, cheries and frogs.

This game was inspired by my interactions with my grandmother. She really enjoys colouring.

I introduced colouring as an activity to my grandma a few years ago. Ever since then, she has not stopped colouring.

Colouring is a great therapy for seniors and helps them to exercise hand eye coordination.

My grandma had gone through many different colouring books.

I then wondered if there were other ways to transform the excisting coloured sheets into a game.

This is how HuaHee Colozzle came about.

HuaHee Colozzle is a colouring and puzzle game. It comes with 15 designs of everyday items, aimed at invoking positive memories in seniors.  The designs includes flowers, seashells, leaves, snails, carrots, lemons, mushrooms, butterflies, corn, rabbits, onions, avocados, cheries and frogs.

It comprises 15 colouring sheets which you can easily tear apart and form puzzles with, after you’re done colouring.

HuaHee Colozzle is a colouring and puzzle game. It comes with 15 designs of everyday items, aimed at invoking positive memories in seniors.  The designs includes flowers, seashells, leaves, snails, carrots, lemons, mushrooms, butterflies, corn, rabbits, onions, avocados, cheries and frogs.

HuaHee Colozzle is a colouring and puzzle game. It comes with 15 designs of everyday items, aimed at invoking positive memories in seniors.  The designs includes flowers, seashells, leaves, snails, carrots, lemons, mushrooms, butterflies, corn, rabbits, onions, avocados, cheries and frogs.

Rules of Play

  1. Colour the items on each colouring sheet
  2. Tear along the dotted lines
  3. Mix up the pieces and form puzzles with them

 

Hua Hee Puzzle

Hua Hee Puzzle comes in 10 designs of local food and heritage items. Aimed at invoking positive responses among seniors, it comes with brightly coloured designs. Hua Hee Puzzle comprises designs of Clogs, Ba Zhang, Otak Otak, Kueh Tutu, Satay, Tingkat, Trishaw, Curry Puff, Gasing, Teh. Each puzzle design is categorised by its frame colours.

Hua Hee Puzzle comes in 10 designs of local food and heritage items. Aimed at invoking positive responses among seniors, it comes with brightly coloured designs. Hua Hee Puzzle comprises designs of Clogs, Ba Zhang, Otak Otak, Kueh Tutu, Satay, Tingkat, Trishaw, Curry Puff, Gasing, Teh. Each puzzle design is categorised by its frame colours.

Hua Hee Puzzle comes in 10 designs of local food and heritage items.

Aimed at invoking positive responses among seniors, it comes with brightly coloured designs.

Hua Hee Puzzle comprises designs of Clogs, Ba Zhang, Otak Otak, Kueh Tutu, Satay, Tingkat, Trishaw, Curry Puff, Gasing, Teh. Each puzzle design is categorised by its frame colours.

Rules of Play

  1. Choose puzzle set to start with. Each puzzle is differentiated by its frame colour.
  2. Mix up the pieces and encourage your loved ones to form puzzles with them.

Help your loved ones train their brain & bring them on a walk down memory lane.

The designs can also be found in Hua Hee Matchoonary and Uniquely Singapore Colouring.

 

Meet me to play HuaHee?

I would love to be able to share with you the game creation process, my experience creating games, and most importantly, why i believe so much in early intervention.

Will you be keen if i invite you to a short sharing where you can also try out the games yourself?

And, share feedback with me as to what type of games you will like to see in the future?

Let me know if you’re interested! Email me at Christel@playhuahee.com!

 

If you’re interesting at getting the games, click here.

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11 Services for Seniors in Singapore

If you are caring for a senior, you may be wondering how to keep your loved ones occupied.

You may be looking for activities, companionship, caregiving or exercise related services for your loved ones.

I’ve compiled a list of options that you can consider. This is definitely not a comprehensive list.

If you know of any services that you think I should add, please let me know!

1. Activities

Activities for seniors
Colouring for seniors is a great activity

I’ve been to AMKFSC’s Senior Activity Hub in Punggol with my grandma. It is quite a positive experience. They have a weekly schedule of activities that range from afternoon exercises, karaoke to arts and craft.

I’m not too sure if all the Senior Activity Centres are open to everyone though? According to Singapore Silver Pages, you have to meet their eligibity criteria and apply first.

There’s too many senior activity centres that it’s impossible to list them all. But, you can definitely look for one near you with the help of Google.

Some of the Senior Activity Centres that you can consider are Hovi Care  and SASCO.

2. Exercise

Exercise gyms, services and programmes for seniors in Singapore.
Exercise gyms, services and programmes for seniors in Singapore.

There are a few exercise options for seniors.

Enabling Village ActiveSG Gym

Extracted from their site — This space was set up by SG Enable, a government-established body that is dedicated to enabling people with disabilities. This is the first inclusive gym where people with disabilities, seniors and the able-bodied can come together to work out and participate in selected sports programmes together.

It is near Redhill MRT station.

ASPIRE 55

Extracted from their site — The ASPIRE55 Introduction Programme is designed to help you improve on your muscle strength and balance after 10 weeks. Over 150 older adults have graduated to date. You will experience our small group strength training programme twice a week, led by an ASPIRE55 trainer. Each week, learn new exercises that will assist you with falls prevention, improvement of balance and muscles strength.

Address:

1 Commonwealth Lane #08-34
One Commonwealth
Singapore 149544

Gym Tonic

I’m not exactly sure how Gym Tonic works but I read about it in the news previously.

They offer strength training for seniors using gym equipment (I think). I believe that they are still in the pilot phases but you can still sign up if you’re keen.

 

One of our friends in our Fighting Dementia group shared that she tried  silver circle active sg gym, enabling village active sg gyms and ASPIRE 55. She prefers ASPIRE 55  even though it has  a higher price point. Because, the trainers are extremely encourging and hands on.

Her mother works on core mobility, stretching and exercising smaller muscle groups during these sessions. They are important muscles becuse they support the larger muscles.

It’s a good mix of machine, stretching and very light weights. Cardio wise, they will do up a health check and advise accordingly.

3. Befriending & Care Support

Seniors need to feel a sense of belonging is the third highest in the Maslow's hierrachy of needs, after safety and phsyological.
Seniors need to feel a sense of belonging.

If your loved ones require companionship, caregiving, nursing or physiotherapy at home, you can engage services via online sites such as JagaMe or Homage.

If you’re looking for  active rehabilitation, community nursing, and personalised dementia care, you can check out NTUC Silver Circle.

There’s also organisations like AWWA, TOUCH Community Services, NTUC Health and Home Nursing Foundation that provide care in varied forms for seniors.

There’s also Senior Day Care options that range from $900 to $1500 monthly and provide exercise, personal care and social and recreational activities. You can apply here.

4. Seniors with dementia

Five big insights into alzheimers/ dementia?
Five big insights into alzheimers/ dementia?

Seniors with dementia can try out Alzheimers’ Dementia Association’s Families of Wisdom programme which is a small group programme where facilities will engage caregivers and seniors in activities.

Seniors are broken into small groups based on the severity of their condition, and their various interests.

Montessori for Dementia Care also offers sessions for seniors to exercise their memory, staying creative, and purposefully active with the goal of continuing to learn and live a life of dignity.

They have an Activity Centre, providing daily 3-hour sessions with diverse activities, with group or individualised sessions. Activities like cooking, music, arts and crafts, exercise, and conversation offer a diverse and social experience.

AWWA Dementia Day Care also offers a programme that aims to help seniors in slowing down the progression of the condition.

 

I believe that there are many more services out there? And, I may have barely scratched the surface.

But, the objective is really to list some available services out there in case you’re looking for something.

I’ve also heard about the red tape involved in getting seniors placed in some of these programmes.

So, I guess if you’re waiting too long to hear back from one service provider, maybe you can try other services?

Let me know if I got anything wrong of if you have anything that you want to share.

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New Launch: Drawing and Colouring PDF

This 9 page PDF comprises seven colouring sheets of the Kueh Lapis, Gasing, Cha Kiak, Ketupat, Png Kueh, Durian and Ba Zhang. Colouring is a great activity for mental and emotional health. It is even more meaningful when you get to colour items that you recognise

I’ve just launched two activities which are in PDF format.

This is the first time that I’ve put out something in PDF.

And, I’m happy to hear from you on this.

Beyond Card Games

I hope to continue creating activities for seniors. But, I guess it may take a different shape and form beyond a deck of cards.

I do think that card games are great in the way that they are able to bring people together and interact face to face.

It is an easily accessible tool for large groups.

You can’t simply hand an ipad to every senior if you have a big event with large communities involved.

Visually Appealing Activities

I want to create activities that are visually appealing.

I try to include icons of everyday things that are familiar to us.

Hopefully, they can invoke positive memories among seniors and trigger some form of response from them.

1. Uniquely Singapore Colouring

This 9 page PDF comprises seven colouring sheets of the Kueh Lapis, Gasing, Cha Kiak, Ketupat, Png Kueh, Durian and Ba Zhang. Colouring is a great activity for mental and emotional health. It is even more meaningful when you get to colour items that you recognise

SALE PRICE: $5

Colouring is a great activity for mental and emotional health.

It is even more meaningful when you get to colour items that you recognise.

This 9 page PDF comprises seven colouring sheets of the Kueh Lapis, Gasing, Cha Kiak, Ketupat, Png Kueh, Durian and Ba Zhang.

The sheets are partially coloured (as indicated on the cover) so that it gives the participant an idea of the intended colour of the item.

2. Step by Step Drawing

Step by Step Sketch for Seniors

SALE PRICE: $3

I was inspired by one of the pages in my grandma ‘s colouring book.

It was an activity that guided people through the steps to draw a particular item. I tried to lead her in this activity.

When we were doing the activity, I realised that it was really quite challenging. It required a ton of hand eye coordination.

So, I created the Step by Step Sketch Activity. It is a The 11 page downloadable PDF comprises 5 exercises.

It guides you and your loved ones to complete the drawing of the orange, seashell, leaf, flower and mushroom in a step by step way.

This is a great activity for seniors who love to draw. For seniors who can’t draw or has issues gripping a pen, you can engage them by getting them to spot the difference between the pictures.

Each picture is a progressive development from the previous, thus, there would be differences between the pictures.

I’m happy to get feedback on whether I should continue in this direction.

These products are currently on sale at $5 and $3 respectively. Check them out here!

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Early Intervention: Does Hua Hee help your grandma?

After experiencing the pain of dementia at home, Christel Goh creates games for people and communities to engage seniors.

When i share with others about my card games, many often ask, “So, your grandma is better now because of your card games?”

To which, I would reply that my family does many different things, in the area of early intervention.

In this blog post, I share about the various lifestyle interventions — food, activities, exercise and social inclusion.

Through all of these, we’ve seen an extremely positive change in my grandma.

Here’s some context:

Early Warning Signs of Dementia

My grandma showed early warning signs of dementia two years ago. She got agressive. She had signs of short term memory loss and suspicion.

This was unsual because she’s usually very sharp and is very mild mannered. But, my mother was very determined not to let her “get” it.

My grandfather had dementia more than five years ago. It was a time where there was much less knowledge/support on the condition in Singapore.

Lots of Research

My mum did extensive research on dementia — from understanding the condition, how it occurs, how to prevent and slow it down.

While many people would say that it’s impossible to reverse the condition of dementia, we’ve seen vast improvement in my grandma. Although, we’ve never gotten her diagnosed in the first place.

The positive change in her memory, behaviour and temperamant shows us that early intervention is really important.

I feel that many people in time starved cities like Singapore dont have the time to watch for behavioural changes in their loved ones, much less embark on early intervention.

People may only see the need to intervene when the symptoms of a condition become servere. By then, it may be too late? I don’t know.

Here’s what my family does for my grandma:

1. Food

Coconut oil is great for persons with dementia or show early warning signs of dementia
Coconut oil is great for persons with dementia or people who show early warning signs of dementia. 

My mum is very health conscious so my grandma eats homecooked food everyday.

My family also hardly eats rice so we limit her rice intake.

Even when she does eat rice, our rice at home is a mix of white, brown rice and barley.

My mum is also against processed food so we don’t really eat things like luncheon meat and spam. (haha)

According to my mum, if whatever you’re eating doesnt have a face, it is processed.

We also take loads of spices in our food like tumeric, cinnmon etc. Tumeric is one of those things that appears to be good for the brain.

My mum also read about the benefits of coconut oil for the brain. Since then, my grandma religiously takes  a spoonful of coconut oil everyday.

While there isn’t sufficient research to back the benefits of coconut oil, there are many stories of it benefiting others online.

We’ve also seen a significant change in her memory and disposition ever since we got her started on coconut oil.

You can get coconut oil at a DISCOUNTED PRICE HERE.

2. Activities

We thought about what would be able to engage her or keep her occupied.

During the daytime, both my parents are at work and if we didn’t find things to engage her with, she would just stare at the tv screen or spend her time sleeping.

One day I brought home the Secret Garden colouring book. She got really intrigued by it.

She spent a long time colouring when we got her the book.

Over the next few days, she stopped staring at the TV screen. She would be colouring all day and night.

To date, she’s gone through many colouring books. We now have stacks and stacks of her coloured books.

Helping her find an activity that she enjoys and keeping her occupied has been one of the best things ever.

Some people have told me that it could be because when i was little, she would be colouring with me.

So, it could be an activity that brings back positive memories.

I’m currently trying to find other ways to engage her so she is continuously exposed to different things and is kept engaged. But,she doesnt seem to be interested in other things. I’ve tried crossword puzzles, drawing etc.

If you’re looking for activities to engage seniors, you can check my games out HERE.

3. Exercise

Last year, she fell down at home a few times. Those were scary experiences. We struggled with getting her off the floor . Thank God she wasnt hurt in those episodes.

Those were signs that she needed to gain strength in her legs. My mum then found some chair exercises off the internet. We got her to go to the psyiotherapist who directed us to those exercises too.

Getting up from a chair is an exercise that she is supposed to do three sessions a day (10 times at each session).

At first, she really struggled to get up and took quite a few seconds trying to get up from the chair.  After doing it regularly, she has progressed quite well. She can now get up without supporting herself with her hands.

The speed at which she gets up from the chair has also increased quite a bit. This shows that she is much stronger in her legs now.

I shared about how consistent exercise helped her gain strength in her legs previously.

4. Social Inclusion

Photo by Alex Boyd on Unsplash

What she gains out of 2 & 3 is social inclusion. It has been reported that hearing loss can lead to dementia and it’s easy to imagine why.

We often have to speak very loudly, slowly and repeat ourselves multiple times for my grandma to hear us.

You can imagine a setting such as dinner – everyone is in the midst of a conversation, but the senior who is hearing impaired is physically present but he or she can’t get involved because they can’t hear.

The need to feel a sense of belonging is the third highest in the Maslow’s hierrachy of needs, after safety and phsyological needs. If they can’t get involved, they can’t feel like they belong.

My mum also gets her to walk around the house everyday after dinner. She always sings and prays with my grandma regularly. We also try to bring her out for walks whenever we can. She’s not very mobile so she cant leave home on her own.

But, she’s very sociable by nature and can strike up a conversation with literally, anyone.

The simple activity of going down to the park gives her much needed sunshine, fresh air and conversations with neighbours.

She also gets to play with pet dogs if the neighbours bring them down.

 

These are simple everyday things to do. But, many times its really about discipline and commitment. What works for us, may not work for you… I encourage you to just keep trying different things. You may only find something that works on your 99th try.

I started on a Preventing Dementia Mooc and you can read my learnings here and here

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Game Ideas: Drawing with my grandma

Sketching with my grandma. We try to engage her with this step by step sketch activity. This is her artwork.

In today’s blog post, I share about a recent activity at home — Drawing with my grandma. I guided my grandma through a Step by Step Drawing activity.

What I’ve learnt is to be less focused on the outcome but more about the process of the activity. In a more cliche phrase, happiness is the journey, and not the destination.

My family is constantly trying to find ways to engage my grandma because we feel that keeping her busy and engaging her is key to her mental health. There’s a common saying  – “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. This is why we are always on the look out for different activities to help work different parts of her brain.

My grandma currently spends most of her time at home colouring. Colouring is a great activity. It’s something that keeps her engaged, and helps her exercise hand and eye coordination. It is great also because its something that she enjoys doing.

Beyond colouring, me and my mum have been looking for different activities to engage her and exercise different parts of the brain. One day, when she was colouring, I noticed a simple Step by Step sketch exercise in her colouring book and so, I tried out the activity with her.

Step by Step Sketch Activity in my grandma's colouring book
Step by Step Drawing Activity in my grandma’s colouring book

While working on this activity, I realised that it’s quite a challenge, it requires seniors to:

1. Understand what is the objective/outcome (e.g. Drawing a cupcake)

2. Identify the differences between each drawing

3. Make a good gauge of where each drawing step starts and ends

4. Understand the textures involved in the drawing (Is it a straight or curved line? Must I draw a jagged ege? etc)

I feel that it was a great activity to practise hand eye coordination and all of these things.  If the seniors that you care for can’t draw, maybe, you can ask them to point out the differences between each drawing as an activity.

Because of this, I created a downloadable PDF of Step by Step Drawing exercises for seniors. You can guide your seniors to draw the flower, orange, mushroom, leaf and seashell. These are everyday items that we would have come into contact with.

Hopefully, these can trigger some positive memories.

I tried the activity that I created with my grandma. And, here are some pictures of the session:

My grandma tracing an object to draw a circle
My grandma tracing an object to draw a circle

My grandma following the Step by Step Sketch guide to draw the petals of a flower.
My grandma following the Step by Step Drawing guide to draw the flower.

My grandma's completed artwork using the Step by Step Sketch guide for seniors
This is her completed artwork

Lessons from drawing with my grandma

Depending on the individual’s ability, you may have to hand hold them quite abit or even help them out by guiding them to draw at the specific locations.

Be mentally prepared that your senior’s completed artwork may look very different from the original sketch (haha). It’s totally okay if they draw the lines wrongly or the proportions are all over the place. I believe the process is definitely much more valuable than the outcome.

Even if this activity doesnt work for you, you can always try something else. It’s important to note that just by attempting to try it out, you have engaged your seniors in some way or another.

So… Dont give up!

Some people have told me that seniors enjoy doing things that is in some ways connected to their past. I read of a caregiver whose mum, living with dementia, paints really beautiful rocks.  Her mother was an artist when she was younger.

I hope this inspires you to try different things with the seniors that you care for. If you know of any activities that works for your seniors, do let me know, so I can try them out with my grandma too.

If you would like to engage your senior(s) with this activity, do consider getting this downloadable PDF and using it as a simple guide.