- Who the game is for – The game is suitable for professionals in a day centre and residential service as well as for a family caring for a loved one with dementia. It is suitable for people with mild to moderate dementia.
This exercise will help maintain – at memory; boost mood; at hand-eye coordination; at fine motor skills; communication; socialization.
Materials needed – model of a tree, portrait photos of family members (up to 2-3), hooks to hang the photos on the tree
Location – Choose a quiet place where the person with dementia and the caregiver feel comfortable, e.g. around a dining table or coffee table where photos can be spread. There should be enough light. Make sure the person with dementia has taken their glasses or other aids such as a hearing aid so that communication can take place.
Preliminary preparation – select the appropriate portrait photos (e.g. son, daughter-in-law, grandson) of family members in the Memory Box. Gather the hooks also together (e.g. in a bag) and also place them in the The box for memories. Inside, tuck the tree model. If there are more than one participant with dementia it is good to have a memory box for each person.
Presentation – explain what you are going to do together in a relaxed and fun way.
Suggest that the person with dementia take out the pictures, the model tree and the hooks for hanging from the Memory Box. (Support him if necessary, but wait calmly for him to take things out of the box himself). Talk about each picture with the person with dementia. Stimulate him or her to answer questions about who this person is and what story he or she can tell about him or her.
If you are a family member, share your memories with the selected photo as well.
If the game is played in a residential service, encourage each participant to tell the others about their loved ones.
Suggest that he place the picture in the appropriate place on the tree, having agreed beforehand whether the top or the bottom will be placed the oldest members of the family. There should be no more than 3 photos of different family members.
Finally, congratulate yourself on a job well done. Stow everything in the Box, agreeing next time to sort the rest of the family.
Violetta, carer of an 81 year old lady with dementia – “We always enjoy our time playing with the Family Tree. I am learning about Malina’s family history. Although she is quite silent when I suggest this activity to her, her face begins to light up afterwards and she starts sharing her stories with joy. We can play these games for hours.