Keeping seniors’ minds engaged and active is very important. Card games are frequently a good way to fight off boredom and keep the brain working. Now here’s an idea for a special deck of playing cards that can make playing Crazy Eights or Gin Rummy even more fun and provide an opportunity to further sharpen minds.
What home caregivers will need:
- a computer
- a printer (color, if possible, but black & white works fine too)
- scanned photographs
- heavy paper or card stock, ideally card stock that comes in perforated sheets with four postcards that measure 5 ½” x 4 ¼” on each sheet
What you will be doing is creating a personalized deck of playing cards. On these cards, rather than numbers and drawings of jacks, queens, and kings, you will have photographs that have some connection with your loved one, such as photos of relatives and friends, photos from vacations, and photos of a childhood home. Ideally, you should have fifty-two different images; however, you can get by with thirteen.
How to make the cards
- If you have a program like Word, go into the “Labels” mode. Select an appropriate template (such as Avery 3623) and click “New document.”
- Use one page of labels to make four cards that have the same value but are of four different suits. For example, you might put the king of hearts, the king of diamonds, the king of clubs, and the king of spades all on one page. You can decide how you want to label them; you might put a “K” on in corner, or you might spell out “King.” You might put a spade symbol in one corner of a card, a heart symbol in the corner of another card, and so forth, or you may spell out “Spades,” “Hearts,” etc. If you have a color printer, you may want to make the clubs and spades in black ink and the hearts and diamonds in red ink.
- Use the “Insert” function to add a picture to each card. If you have fifty-two pictures, you can use a different picture for each card. If you have only thirteen, use the same picture for all of the cards that have the same value. For instance, you might use the same picture for all four kings.
Once you have printed the cards, you can use them to play any typical card game. However, because these cards are personalized, you can use them to help your loved one remember people or events in their lives. As one of you lays down a card, you might say, “Oh, look, that’s cousin Johann. Do you remember when he came by last Christmas?” or “That was taken when you took that vacation to the islands with Dad, remember?”
Don’t be afraid to let the game drag on as you pause to try to remember things together. If you and your loved one get sidetracked for a few minutes because a card brings up memories and associations, that’s more important than keeping track of who played which card.
As home caregivers, you know that finding special moments to bond and to remember special things can make a big difference for you and your loved one. Use these cards to try to bring these moments about.