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New Stay Sharp Kits Include Supportive Activities to Help Reduce Memory Loss

Posted on April 12, 2023 at 6:00 am

By Stacey Goddard

I’m excited to announce the recent addition to our collection of Stay Sharp Kits!

Stay Sharp Kits are designed to be used with individuals who are experiencing memory loss or other cognitive issues related to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other memory disorders. They’re also great for anyone who wants to improve their short-term memory and overall mental speed.

Each kit is a collection of engaging items based on a specific theme, such as gardening, travel, space, and others. Each kit includes a book and three or four activities—puzzles, card games, etc.—that spark conversation and stimulate brain activity.

The activities encourage multi-generational participation and would be fun for families, friends, and/or neighbors to complete together.

I checked out the On the Road Again: Travel Stay Sharp Kit recently, and as I reviewed the contents, I really wished something like this existed back in the 80s. That’s when my grandma was exhibiting signs of dementia, and I think she would have enjoyed interacting with these kits.

The On the Road Again: Travel Kit includes five items. First up is a DK Eyewitness Train book, which includes information about what the different types of trains are (steam, diesel, electric), how train tracks are produced and placed, and what you’d find in a train station. There’s even a section on model trains! My grandma loved trains, and I know this book would have sparked quite a few conversations with her, and she would have shared a lot of her own experiences of riding a train as a child.

The next two items in the kit are puzzles. One is a jigsaw puzzle that would be fun for children, parents, and grandparents to put together as a group. The finished scene depicts a road trip, which will likely spark more conversation and reminiscing about past family trips.

The second is a puzzle game called Road Trip Packing Puzzle and is designed to improve mental speed and give a sense of accomplishment. You start by picking a card which tells you which specific pieces you need to make fit in the car’s trunk on the game board. For example, the card I picked showed a surfboard, radio, and cooler. Once I had those game pieces selected, I had to arrange them in the trunk space until they completely fit, and I could close the trunk door.

Similar to tangrams, the game pieces are different geometric shapes (triangles, circles, etc.) that you need to fit into a larger rectangle space. You could play this competitively or collaboratively, and it would be fun either way. This might have frustrated my grandma at times, but she was also stubborn and would have wanted to solve all the packing puzzles herself!

The final two items in the kit are card and dice games. Category Snap is a card game with four categories of cards—animals, tools, transport, food—and eight cards in each category. It feels like a mash up of Go Fish and Uno—with lots of options in the instructions for playing a variety of ways.

Hobbies Conversation Game is my favorite thing in this kit. It features 24 hobby tiles and a six-sided conversation dice. You begin by placing the tiles face-down on a table and have someone roll the dice. The dice has instructions like “Pick two tiles: Which do you prefer?” and “Pick three tiles: Which is the ODD one out?”.

My practice roll told me to “Pick one tile: What is your opinion of         ?” The tile I picked was knitting, and my opinion is that I love knitted things, but I am bad at knitting myself—unless the object is to create a giant knot of yarn. My grandma would have said that knitting was fine but crocheting and embroidery were far superior hobbies. She was great at both activities, and I still have some of her projects to prove it!

If these activities sound like something you or a family member or friend might enjoy, I would encourage you to check out this or one of the other Stay Sharp Kits. The activities will vary from kit to kit, but all are designed to help improve short-term memory and mental speed. They’re also a lot of fun!

Check out these Stay Sharp Kit topics:

Librarian Stacey Goddard

Stacey Goddard loves being able to work with small business owners and people looking to change careers as part of her job as a Public Services Manager for Spokane County Library District. She’s also a fan of helping folks increase their financial literacy, especially after her own ill-advised spending decisions in her 20s and 30s! Outside of work, Stacey enjoys buying cookbooks to browse and probably never use, binge-watching fashion competition shows, and planning her next vacation to the Oregon Coast.

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