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New Stay Sharp Kits: More Activities to Help Support Those Facing Memory Loss

Posted on May 16, 2024 at 6:30 am

Contents of "Stay Sharp Kit: Let's Move" which can be checked out from Spokane County Library District

By Stacey Goddard

The library has eight new, themed Stay Sharp Kits available to check out, making a total of 19 different themed kits in our collection.

Stay Sharp Kits have been put together with activities that can be used with individuals who are experiencing memory loss or other cognitive issues related to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other memory disorders. The kits are also great for anyone who wants to improve their short-term memory and overall mental speed.

Stay Sharp Kit activities are also designed to encourage multi-generational participation. That means they’re fun for families, friends, and neighbors to complete together.

For the focus of this post, I decided to look at the new Let’s Move kit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, being physically active can improve your brain health. Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age.

The Stay Sharp Kit: Let’s Move has several activities that can help get your body and mind moving!

Let’s Move Kit

Book cover of "Chair Yoga for Seniors" by Lynn Lehmkuhl

The first item in this kit is the book Chair Yoga for Seniors, by Lynn Lehmkuhl. Lehmkuhl is a registered yoga teacher and begins her book with examples of real individuals who have taken and benefited from her chair yoga classes. These individuals include a recent heart attack sufferer, a long-time power walker, and a wheelchair-bound woman who suffers from COPD. Each person has benefited from practicing chair yoga.

Along with simple and clear instructions, this book has photographs demonstrating each stretch, pose, and movement. Lehmkuhl includes beginner, intermediate, and advanced full-body programs, and she also includes beginner and intermediate programs designed for people suffering from osteoarthritis. I think my grandma would have been game to try the beginner osteoarthritis program with me, and she would have loved the opportunity to increase her strength and flexibility.

The next item in the kit is something called Dimpl Pops. Playing with the pop board is a strangely satisfying activity! This white hard plastic board is about 6 inches wide by 8 inches tall and is filled with rows of colorful rubber balls that you can “pop” down or up. There are 18 “poppable” balls in a variety of sizes and colors. Younger kids, and adults as well, enjoy directions to pop specific colors or to make a shape like a square out of the balls.

It also reminds me a bit of those fidget spinner toys that are popular and would be a nice activity for someone who likes to keep their hands busy while watching TV or chatting with family or friends.

Keeping with the theme of activities for your hands, the next item in the kit is a set of two Stretchy Strings. These are manipulative items that provide sensory therapy and are shown to reduce anxiety, provide comfort, and calm fidgety hands. And they’re also fun to play with and twist around!

Expressions card game

A card game called Expressions is the next item in the kit. This memory game asks players to complete a well-known phrase, such as “up, up, and _ _ _ _” (away) or “the check is in the _ _ _ _” (mail). There are two sets of cards: the first set has the phrase, and the second has the missing word that completes the phrase. Most players have fun and find it satisfying to match the missing word with its corresponding phrase.

The final item in the kit is also my favorite: Playable Art Balls. This set of 20 colorful golf ball sized wooden balls are all interconnected and can be turned, twisted, and manipulated into a variety of different shapes. This is another satisfying tactile exercise, and the wooden click-clack sound the balls make when they strike each other is soothing.

Other New Stay Sharp Kits

Explore the World of Art

Coastal Escape Aquapaints activity

Art lovers will enjoy the Coastal Escape Aquapaints activity. Bring one of five different illustrations to colorful life using just a paintbrush and water. If you like art and want to learn more about it, peruse the book Great Paintings: The World’s Masterpieces Explored and Explained, by DK Publishing, to explore more than 60 significant paintings.

History Buffs: World War II

Flip through the pages of DK Eyewitness: World War II to learn about the war’s major events, key figures, and more. After that, play a game of U.S. Army-Opoly, a themed version of Monopoly where you’ll discover interesting facts and historical information on the back of each property card.

Sports: Fishing

Fishin'-Opoly boardgame

Play a spirted game of Fishin’-Opoly, a themed version of Monopoly that everyone can enjoy! Learn fascinating fishing facts as you buy, sell, and trade different kinds of fish and gear with your friends and family. Afterwards, explore the pages of DK Eyewitness: Fish to learn about the different types of species and the ecosystems they live in.

Sports: Football

Football lovers can debate the entries in the book NFL Heroes: The 100 Greatest Players of All Time, by George Johnson and Allan Maki. (I know my dad wouldn’t agree with all of them!) There’s also an NFL Trades Card Game, where participants try to grab the best combination of top picks before their competitors do.

Sports: Golf

Fans of “a good walk spoiled” will enjoy flipping through the pages of Remarkable Golf Courses, by Iain T. Spragg, which spotlights over 80 of the world’s most beautiful—and challenging—golf courses. This kit also includes an interactive Golf Target game, where you try to hit the hole with bean bags.

Trees

Trees of the World Flash Cards from DK Smithsonian

Test and expand your knowledge with the set of Trees of the World Flash Cards. With 125 cards, you’ll be able to learn about trees all over the world. When you’re done, play a rousing game of Tree Bingo!

World Traveler

Use the World ScrunchMap to study the locations of the countries of the world. And when you’re done, you don’t have to worry about trying to fold it correctly—instead, you can just “scrunch” it up and put it back in the carrying bag! Next, test your knowledge of trivia by playing Professor Noggin’s Countries of the World Card Game. Answer more questions correctly than your opponents to win!

For a list of 11 more kits you can check out, head to my previous post about Stay Sharp Kits. I encourage you to check out one or more and enjoy exploring them with your family and friends!

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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