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Hi All, My Dad's neurologist wants him to play games, to stimulate his brain. Any suggestions on technology to use? Like a laptop, tablet? Touch screen or keyboard? Mind you that he is the type that has a reason why everything doesn't work easy for him, so simplicity is mandatory....

Thank you,
Deb

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My father would never have the interest to fuss with a tablet or applications, but he can still design an angle break, support for a walker basket, walker padding, and outfitting his workshop.

He's designed things for home use all his life, so those are the things that trigger his cognitive and spatial functions.
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My Mom was pretty good at the computer. She used word processing and spreadsheets mostly. Then about seven or eight years ago was not able to remember how to turn it on, very frustrating for her so computer was removed from the house.

We have two tablets in the house. One has movies and some apps that i thought would be interesting for her. She enjoys the movies and watching funny animals, American Idol videos on YouTube but that is about it. Games, nope.

My suggestion, if you decide to get a tablet, is to always have someone available to help him with it. And only use the device as a method to redirect when needed. Depending on how far he is into his disease, unless he can remember to use it, then operate it is another cause of frustration and aggregation for him. It is one of those things that fall under the old KISS principle, jigsaw puzzles, puzzle books and the like.
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EFOinSRQ, the simple remote we got Mom for her tv is "pretty simple to use and does not require any real computer skills." The same could be said for the very simple Jitterbug cell phone I got my husband. But they both had some problems using them.

Demilly, this depends so heavily on your dad's current cognitive ability, attitude toward technology, and motivation. An electronic device could be an absolute marvel for him, or an expensive dust-catcher. I see that you can only be with him a couple of times a month and that your brother is not there often, either. Is Dad the type who likes to fool around with things on his own and figure them out? Would it be possible to let him try a tablet or laptop or whatever you are considering for a while without buying one? Do you have one you could spare for a couple of weeks?

As EFOinSRQ's post illustrates, once you have a device picked out you will find many suitable applications for Dad. But the fundamental question is, will he enjoy and master the device?
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There are several outstanding programs for stimulating cognitive functions, like the fun and effective BRAIN HQ from the Posit Company. It is a software program that will work on any laptop.

If your Dad also has hearing loss, which over half of 70+ people do, there are similar software programs that stimulate cognitive and auditory functions at the same time. One of the most effective is called LACE, another is named READ MY QUIPS and there is also ANGEL SOUNDS.

Most of these are available as a by annual access license, as a download or as a disk. They also have a demo on line you can try before purchasing to sort out which one you like best. They are also pretty simple to use and do not require any real computer skills.
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See if anything might be appropriate from the online Alzheimers Store.
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My husband was a mechanical engineer -- definitely intelligent. He used CAD programs in his work life. But with dementia he could barely manage a simple cell phone with a lot of reminders. He enjoyed it when our son showed him a slide show on a tablet but he had no desire to operate it himself.

He did like a board game version of Sudoku called Color-Ku, where colored balls are used instead of numbers. We played it together. He often could figure out what color ball went where but sometimes had trouble manipulating the balls with his fingers.

Our neurologist recommended Wii games. That was not something my husband was interested in alone, but would play with others.

My mother, 94, dementia, still does crossword puzzles, but now only Easy ones in big print.

Garden Artist has some good advice.
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my father and mother both have Kindles. Dad uses it mostly for games. Mom loves Words with Friends and Facebook, because it helps her keep in touch with her side of the family. (13 brothers and sisters, most of them gone, but many of their sons and daughters are on Facebook.) they both like Scrabble and Bananagrams. Recently they have started playing cards again (something that I grew up with.) I would recommend a very easy tablet only if someone is around to troubleshoot and help him learn it. there is also a fun toy that I had when I was little I think it is still around. It is called Simon. It is a game with different difficulty levels. It has four colored buttons and they flash and make sounds in a sequence. You have to repeat the sequence back. it's a lot of fun.
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I wouldn't even consider wirelss devices; they're too challenging for elders to figure out all the buttons and options. It's not necessarily that they can't, but that it's time consuming and requires patience which they may not have.

It can also be hard on their eyes; electronic screens aren't the best thing for the human eye.

Try something reminiscent of their age group - when my parents wintered in Texas they met with other Winter Texans and frequently played dominoes. My father macramed covers for lawn chairs. They baked and had lunch and dinners together.

Jigsaw puzzles are another option; I found large piece puzzles at a children's store. Puzzles are excelent for stimulating spatial relationships.

Board games, Chinese checkers, and others come to mind.

Crossword puzzles also stimulate the mind. Reminisce and Reminsce Extra are magazines with a puzzle in each issue. They focus on life during the Depression and WWII, with anecdotes submitted by readers about their experiences growing up during those times. It could help create and stimulate a mental continuity with your father's own childhood.

Ask him to tell you about his growing up and military experiences (unless he doesn't want to discuss combat experience).

Social activity is also an excellent stimulant, especially with others of your father's age. The ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out) is a wonderful concept. Older men get together perhaps once a month for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and just get acquainted, talk and relax. The bonds that can be created are invaluable.

And break up any of your sessions with your father by chat time, snack time, or something if he begins to get tired. Older folks sometimes take great pleasure in reminiscing and chatting about escapades undertaken when they were younger (tipping over outhouses, pranks like that).
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One of my patients has dementia and had expressed interest in other people's phones and all that they could do so her family bought her an iPad. It was a disaster. Yes, it's easy for us to adapt and to remember to push *this* button when we want a keyboard, push *that* button to do a search, but not so much for an elderly lady with dementia. All it did was frustrate her, make her feel bad about herself, and allow her to realize how much she's declined. It was a horrible experience for all involved and she obsessed over it for days.

I'd stick with a pencil and paper.
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My 81-year-old MIL with what is probably mid-stage dementia (she's "too busy" to see a neurologist and get checked out) couldn't cope with the Nook e-reader we gave her a couple of years ago. She tried it out in the store and said it "went too fast." She couldn't understand that the user controls how fast the pages turn, and so on.

Her computer literacy used to extend as far as sending and receiving emails, but she's no longer capable of doing even that.

I'd say that if your father isn't comfortable using a computer, or if you've showed him your Kindle/iPad/smart phone or whatever and he's not particularly interested, then a puzzle book with mazes, word searches, crosswords or maybe Sudoku would be the way to go.
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Does your dad enjoy using a computer? If he finds technology frustrating, how about paper and pencil puzzles and games. Did the neurologist have specific recommendations?
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