Games Without Frontiers

I often think how lucky I am to have my jobs. How many people can get paid to watch the Disney Channel or TV Land; hang out on the playground; tell stories or listen to them; pet dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits; or play games?

The last is one where I’m always learning something new. I’m aces at any game involving trivia or any sort of memory, and I rock at any game that requires you to be a judge of character. (Scruples, anyone?) As for games that involve luck and/or strategy? Let’s just say that I lack the “10% luck, 20% skill” and have to rely upon the “15% concentrated power of will.”

When I took care of Big Sister and Little One, their mother encouraged me to play games with them, and I was more than happy to do so. I finally learned Apples to Apples and gleefully took money from them while playing Monopoly. I also regularly got thrashed; in a chess game, Big Sister once checkmated me within five minutes, and Little One regularly beat me at checkers. This was not a case of “letting the child win.” Those girls legitimately cleaned my clock.

I’m always looking for new ways to interact with my home care clients, and games offer me that opportunity with them, too. One of my clients, an elderly couple, isn’t always interested in television due to the husband’s hearing and vision loss. I came up with the idea of bringing over my checkerboard and my Uno cards (I have an old-school set with the plastic cardholder and the scorepads). The husband usually doesn’t care to play, but the wife regularly beats me at both games. I generally “let” her win at Uno; she has dementia and doesn’t always remember the rules. But like Little One, she beats me at checkers fair and square. No matter who wins, she has fun and so do I.

Today, I worked with a client who is relatively new to me, and I decided to try some new activities with her. I brought in Table Talk, a deck of cards with conversation starter questions. I originally bought it to use in the classroom in case I finished early or a teacher didn’t leave lesson plans, but I thought it might be enjoyable to use with clients. My client didn’t talk much, but she was amused by my answers to the questions, and I got her to smile.

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