Reminiscence Trivia

 Reminiscence Trivia

Taking a walk down memory lane is likely to invite reminiscence and as a home health speech-language pathologist, Reminiscence Trivia has become a helpful resource for my clients, and their families and caregivers. The information can trigger stories and an added benefits are the activities for recall and cognitive stimulation. Activity professionals find reminiscence activities are always popular and this product adds much more to that experience.

Not only does it highlight an event for each day of the year but also the birthdays of some people from the past.  Using that information, a wide variety of reproducible brain game activities that correspond with each day of the month have been developed. There are yes/no, multiple choice and factual questions as well as fill in the blank activities. Each day also has a corresponding conversation starter and a fill in and crossword puzzle using words from that month.

Depending on how you want to use this product, you may prefer to have the months organized consecutively followed by all the activities. All sections are conveniently labeled so the availability of a flash drive allows you to create the format you feel works best for your situation.

Speech-language pathologists and activity professionals will have a wide variety of activities for reminiscing, recall and memory, listening and reading as well as writing practice. All of the activities can be modified for those with some difficulties by providing more cues as either written or spoken hints.

A spiral workbook version is also available and may be the perfect format for a  home carryover program or as a resource for conversation starters. This link will provide you with a sample of the daily calendar and the corresponding activities to try.

Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things. Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal

Additional resources:
KEEP YOUR BRAIN SHARP blog series highlighting other reminiscence products and brain games as well as information about a training by Kathryn Kilpatrick
Creating, Modifying and Expanding Your Memory Fitness Program

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Brain Teasers

When was the last time you added some variety to your brain fitness routine? Most people find something they enjoy such as reading, playing cards, certain types of puzzles or more active pastimes and leave it at that. Not only does varying that routine increase your cognitive stimulation but it has the potential to increase your socialization opportunities and expand your conversation topics.

Take the challenge with a wide variety of word games certain to give you activities you have probably never done before.   Brain Teasers includes 100 different activities as well as additional memory strategies and tips on how to upgrade your current memory fitness routine. There are 5 different sections and each divider page provides helpful suggestions.

Some activities will be quite easy but here is a tip to increase the challenge to your brain. Since using your non-dominant hand stimulates the opposite side of your brain, try printing the answers with your other hand. Within a short time you will be surprised to see how legible your letters have become. You will also notice how filling in the answers in your daily crossword puzzle with the other hand makes it just a bit more challenging. If that is not challenging enough, put the letters in the puzzle by filling in the last letter first and move backwards! Just a few simple ways to upgrade your current routine.

For those activities that are different from what you prefer, approach them with a positive attitude. Feel free to look at the answer page so you can learn the process needed to solve the items. If something is challenging, wait awhile then come back to it, try again or do it with another person. Enjoy the process of developing a new skill. Adding variety that appeals to you is important when it comes enhancing the quality of your days while boosting your brain power.

Activity professionals and speech-language pathologists find that providing a few extra cues allows these activities to be possible for a wider variety of skill levels. Many of my patients with milder dementia or Alzheimer’s disease enjoy doing them with family, friends or care partners once those extra cues are provided. Make copies of a page and do it together. Sometimes coming back to a page again is much easier once the format and problem solving strategies are more familiar.

Brain Teasers is part of a Memory Fitness Toolkit which includes Walking the Path to Memory Fitness One Week at a Time. This is popular starter book for attendees of my Keep Your Brain Sharp programs. Learning the keys to memory fitness will help you to see how not only brain games but attitude and paying attention along with lifestyle choices need to become part of your overall plan for successful aging and memory fitness.

Another fun product is Brain Teasers, part of the Reminiscence Puzzles of the 20th Century series. Enjoy a walk down memory lane and  share some of those interesting  recollections from earlier years while working with 5 different word games.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.  Walt Disney

Additional resources:
K
eep Your Brain Fit blog series highlighting products
Also a training on Creating, Modifying and Expanding Your Memory Fitness Program

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Walking the Path to Memory Fitness One Week at a Time

In this 52 week plan you will better understanding the basics of memory fitness including the importance of attitude and paying attention which are the foundations of memory fitness. Whether I am working with someone younger expressing concerns about their memory, a person diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment or an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, these areas become a primary focus when creating a program.  Lifestyle choices, socialization and handling ongoing stress become future areas to be explored. Developing strategies and upgrading a memory fitness can provide some key elements that need to be addressed but modified according the person’s lifestyle, and current level of functioning.

Walking the Path of Memory Fitness One Week at a Time can be used by an individual as a personal program or with another person or two. Groups have been formed that meet on a regular basis and each of the areas are addressed at a pace that works for the participants’ schedules. Caregivers have found this resource to help them better understand the changes in a loved one’s memory and ways to support them. It also has been helpful for them to understand some of their concerns when they experience memory issues which may in part be complicated by their stress and other factors.

The information is presented one week at a time with an entry for every day.  There are 11 major themes covering information and suggestions about the most important areas. Saturday offers something to engage your brain and Sunday suggests some ways to bring a little more balance into your life.

One of the most productive ways to enhance your memory fitness is to embrace a program that first increases your understanding of the bigger picture. From there you are encouraged to focus on the areas that may be a priority for your particular situation.  The keys to memory fitness are also important for successful aging and this book may help you walk the journey one week at a time. SAMPLE PAGES

Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You can never tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.  Pierce Harris

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Reminiscing through the 20th Century: Puzzle Series

Reminiscing through the 20th Century are terrific puzzles and brain teasers for all ages, but they are particularly designed for boomers and beyond.

If you have never wanted to attempt puzzles, start with the fill in puzzles, progress to the word search then try the crossword puzzles.  Those puzzles have a column with the answers to choose from supplied in alphabetical order if you need a clue or two. Even the Brain Teaser puzzle book provides hints if needed.

These popular products are a great resource for senior groups and activity professionals wanting to provide a variety of activities that appeal to old adults in all levels of care. Speech-language pathologists will find a variety of therapeutic applications working with all ages on attention and concentration, language, cognitive, and/or memory skills, as well as reading and writing.

My incentive to creating these types of puzzles started when I had clients who did puzzles daily but due to vision or cognitive changes had to give them up. Providing something at their level can make all the difference and the introductions in each book spell out suggestions. The larger print makes it easy to read and the simplified format provides a wide variety of applications.

Reminiscing through the 20th Century: Fill-In Puzzles
SAMPLE PAGES 1920′s 1990′s 
Fill in the missing letters of songs, movies, famous names in sports and entertainment, popular products, signs of the times and much more.  5 puzzles per decade.

Reminiscing through the 20th Century: Word Searches
SAMPLE PAGES 1930′s 1960′s
Find the hidden words including songs, movies, famous names in sports and entertainment, popular products, signs of the times and much more. 5 puzzles per decade.

Reminiscing through the 20th Century: Crossword Puzzles
SAMPLE PAGES  1930′s    Enjoy a modified crossword puzzle with a list of words to choose from when completing phrases. Topics include songs, music, sports, TV shows, men in the service, books, companies and more. 5 puzzles per decade.

Reminiscing through the 20th Century: Brain Teasers
SAMPLE PAGES  1960′s 1980′s 1990′s  Each decade has a series of word games to challenge your brain. There are words to unscramble, a list of the first and last names of famous people to match, phrases that need the missing vowels filled in and a few other surprises. 5 puzzles per decade.

Research recommends challenging your brain and this series is a great place to get started. It is a way to also recall your journey through the decades of your life or that of your parents, grandparents and friends. It will certainly remind you of some of the things that were popular and others that may be long forgotten. You may even begin a whole new level of conversation and connection as you recall and share your stories and listen to the stories of others.

“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and
renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends,
taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints” Wilfred Peterson

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The Daily Reminiscence Calendar 1900′s – 1990′s

What happened in history the day you were born? Which famous person shares your birthday? Curious?  This Daily Reminiscence Calendar provides details about happenings for each day of the year.  It is one in a series of reminiscence products designed so individuals of all ages can reflect back on the people and events that shaped their lives while keeping track of current events.

This versatile resource provides an event and several birthdays along with corresponding items to recall as well as conversation starters for each day of the year. There is a place to add appointments so this day by day calendar also can become a permanent record of appointments, birthdays of friends and family, other happenings or some personal reflections about the items mentioned for any particular day.

When I left this book with a home health patient demonstrating early stage Alzheimer’s disease, something unexpected happened when her daughters came into town for a visit. They had noticed lately that she was much less conversational but she did have preserved reading skills so they were pleased when she picked the book up and just started reading aloud some of the entries in the calendar. They took turns picking out dates and it evolved into an entire evening of sharing stories. One of the daughters felt so delighted they were able to see their mom more involved and it actually turned out to be a great intergenerational activity once every got involved.

Suggestions for senior centers and independent and assisted living residences include posting a copy of the current day’s details on a bulletin board or in the elevator to provide some varied conversation options. Sometimes an activity professional will try reproducing the appropriate page for a person’s birthday or use the questions corresponding with the information as part of a memory fitness group.

Offering this calendar with a CD provides activity professionals and speech-language pathologists with the opportunity to pick and choose specific dates easily. For those with access to reference materials or electronic devices, it can be an excellent chance to explore details about the mentioned events and people or perhaps find other things happening on that date.

The format with the fact of the day and birthdays of 2 well-known people followed by yes/no questions, multiple choice options, and a fill in the missing word activity provides some comprehension and memory activities. Professionals can use the recall questions for listening, reading, verbal or writing activities. There are many ways to modify each of the activities for those needing additional assistance by using yes/no questions or multiple choice options. The introduction in the book provides detailed suggestions on how to expand this product’s usage beyond a daily calendar.

When we share our stories, what it does is it opens up our hearts for other people to share their stories.  Janine Shepherd

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Verbal, Visual, Numerical Brain Game Series

Sometimes it is hard to break out of your routine. It is no different when it comes to exercise programs that either involves physical or brain fitness activities.  Challenging your brain with something new, especially out of your comfort zone, can be less intimidating by taking baby steps. This brain game series of 3 unique modalities comes with several options. The flash drive allows you to print off various pages while the workbook is something you can conveniently open up and do when the spirit moves you.

In some cases, especially those involved in presenting activities for older adults including the brain games programs, the possibilities are endless in terms of the variety of options. They allow you to find the activities most appealing to the individual interests of each of the participants.

First of all, each person has different strengths. Are you good with numbers? What about those visual spatial skills or are you drawn to word and letter combinations? Try something different by first taking advantage of the sample pages. Each activity in the visual, numerical and verbal brain game series progresses from simple to complex in three different but related levels (I , II and III). Some of the harder ones can be tricky so throw away the rules because this is not school. It is an opportunity to take a peek at the answer and then try and figure out how that answer was derived.

Several months ago I got an email from a speech-language pathologist using one of these exercises asking for the reasoning behind the solution. Actually it took me awhile to figure it out myself and it made me smile.  Just because I wrote it, does not mean I automatically had the answer.

What can you look forward to? A variety of challenges are available so check out some of the sample pages.

Numerical Brain Games: Counting, Before After or  Between, Hidden Numbers, Decoding, Number Sequencing, Numbers in Wheels, Numbers in Boxes, Fractional Relationships, Missing Numbers, and Number Relationships

Verbal Brain Games: Run Ons, Correct Spelling, Incorrect Spelling, Missing Vowels, Words in Wheels, Hidden Word Puzzles, Letter Maze, Letter Sequencing, Letter Relationships, Related Words, Words Within Words, Common Missing Letters, Common Missing Words and Letters, More Common Missing Words and Letters, and Word Relationships

Visual Brain Games: Matching Identicals, Different Shapes, Tracking, Size Comparison, Copy or Divide, Pattern Sequencing, Counting, Analogies, Pattern Completion, Which Does Not Belong, Hidden Shapes, Remove or Add, Shape Formation, Combining Shapes, and Missing Parts.

Additional resources to Keep Your Brain Sharp

 I am always doing things I can’t do — that’s how I get to do them. – Pablo Picasso

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Word Challengers

Research supports challenging your brain and changing up your routine. Many of these word puzzles will be unique to what you normally do. Some are easier to figure out while others are definitely more challenging. Anyone can benefit from a little variety in their choices and this product also offers excellent activities for the brain fitness programs in senior centers, adult day or independent and assisted living programs. In addition many older adults receiving home companion services might enjoy this activity with the assistance of a hired caregiver.

Change is not always welcome but rather than discard these varied word games as options, shift your attitude and give some of them a try. Since a positive attitude is one of the key components of successful aging and certainly supports memory fitness, consider the benefits where a wide variety of items are available in one resource.

As a speech-language pathologist working with my clients who have concerns about their memory, one of the aspects of a personalized program is to introduce activities the person generally has not done before. Those diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment are often encouraged by their doctor to engage in a variety of brain games. In my experience, sometimes it necessary to introduce new activities but alter them to meet a person’s current level of functioning and modify them more if changes occur to encourage their interest.

Adding to their frustration is not going to help the process. In many cases it includes providing more hints. I may encourage a person to look at the answer pages and use them to help figure what to do then go back and try it later. Nothing is more satisfying than hearing a person who gave up on doing some of the brain fitness activities they used to enjoy because they are too challenging comment after trying that they feel like they are using their brain again and seem to be enjoying themselves.

Additional resources to Keep Your Brain Sharp

It’s essential to keep an open mind, and to be willing–better yet, eager–to try new things. Michael Abrash

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20th Century in Review

What happened the year you were born? What about when you turned 16 or the year you graduated from high school or college, got married or had your first child? It seemed my friends enjoyed looking up what happened the year they were born in a book on our coffee table called Chronicle of America.

As a speech-language pathologist I found this information to be a very handy tool for reminiscence and as a conversation starter so the 20th Century in Review was created. It allows you to take a walk through all the years of the 20th century with three headlines and six items that were popular during each year.

Families have found that loved ones who may not easily initiate conversation have often just listened to others share memories which sometimes resulted in their increased engagement.  Activity professionals can take advantage of this resource with the accompanying CD and directions for activity modification when using the series of recall questions and category naming opportunities.

Some interesting facts
1910    The average man earned $15 for a 58-hour work week.
1928    Women competed in the Olympics for the first time.
1938    Helmets were required in college football.

Popular products
1911   Electric frying pan
1920  Band-Aid Adhesive strips
1933   Ritz crackers

Speech-language pathologists working with those experiencing communication problems after a stroke or those with mild to moderate memory problems now have easy access to topics that appeal to their clients. It also is a great carryover tool after the treatment program has been discontinued and a home program has been recommended.

For brain game groups, looking up additional information on each year or more details about a happening to share with others, can provide activities appealing to many of the participants.

When a person has more difficulty, offering yes and no questions or multiple choice options suggests ways to accommodate the different levels of the functioning of those participating in the activity.

The introduction offers wide variety of recommendations for senior residences including posting information in elevators or in newsletter so families and friends have potential conversation starters when visiting. Making a copy of the special years in a person’s life can be a special way to celebrate a birthday.

Families and caregivers will also enjoy the opportunities it provides to engage several generations in conversations about a wide variety of topics. It can also be used as a resource to journal the memories of the decades of their life on topics long forgotten.

Additional resources to Keep Your Brain Sharp

Telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering. Rachel Naomi Remen

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So What Do You Think?

So What Do You Think   Talk..Talk..Talk

Conversations can often take many directions and sometimes you may be asked a question that makes you think a little bit. How would you answer some of these questions? Tell about something you haven’t done in a long time that you would like to do?  Pretend you are in a parade. What part would you like to be?

So What Do Think  became the first in a series of conversation starters including Connecting the Generations, and the series of reminiscence products and puzzles. One of the advantages is that the cards each have three questions so you can pick the one that appeals to you the most. The questions also appear in a journal form at so that you can write your thoughts instead.  You may find your answers vary depending on the person you are talking with, your mood at the time, or perhaps over a period of time.

Sharing your stories is one of the many activities you can do to keep your brain sharp. If you know someone who is starting to have some difficulty with name recall and conversing, start asking those questions and record their stories so when that person is struggling more, you can help them tell that story.

The possibilities of how to use these products are numerous. One of the Alzheimer’s groups in a nursing home used the questions and then a volunteer recorded the participant’s comments. Later they took the questions and corresponding answers and put them in a journal to present to family members as a gift.

I remember using the question with a stroke patient who needed to increase his ability to speak at a conversation level. One of his relatives decided to use the cards to connect with a grandchild out of town. They would take turns picking a new question for the other to talk about during their frequent phone calls. Another idea came from a grandparent taking a road trip with two of her grandchildren. She thought she could get to better know them by using the questions during their drive and it is likely that went both ways!

Senior centers could add some of the questions in their newsletter or use them when they planned grandparent’s day activities. In an independent or assisted living setting, the cards could be available while waiting for meals to be served or posted in an elevator or some other place where visitors might get some ideas for conversation starters. One granddaughter used it to gather her aunt’s stories for a class project and when the woman’s memory began to fail she had the stories she could read aloud when some of the details and names were hard to recall.

Often families want their own set of cards just to have on hand when someone stops by. This creates a perfect opportunity for people to spend time sharing and enjoying each other’s company. You are bound to learn something about someone you thought you knew, including yourself. So What Do You Think?

Additional resources to Keep Your Brain Sharp

People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being. Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality too. It goes from one generation to another.  Studs Terkel

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Connecting the Generations

“Connecting the Generations – Your Stories….My Stories”

Are you looking for conversation starters? Many of you may enjoy reminiscing but older adults, particularly those with some form of dementia, often like to sharing memories from the past.  Sometimes they may have trouble recalling specific names or will have a tendency to retell the same story over and over. Initiating a variety of topics may no longer be something they can easily handle. Some of them have commented they do not tell their stories to those closest to them any more because they feel others are tired of hearing them.

Being a home health speech-language pathologist, one the most fulfilling aspects is learning the stories of my patients. Not only does it help to create a more effective care plan but hearing more of their life’s journey is often so interesting and provides pertinent topics for ongoing conversation and related therapy tasks.

Connecting the Generations provides an opportunity to encourage those conversations as young and old share stories. There are a wide variety of topics with questions for the young to ask to older person and visa versa.

During an evaluation many years ago I had a patient with Alzheimer’s disease living in a memory care residence. His conversation centered on the past, often the same story repeated with frustration as he struggled to find the correct words. His 2 sons came to visit periodically but never stayed for long and I suggested they attend a session. One of my goals was to help them better understand ways to create more meaningful visits and how to cue him when he struggled with a name.

What happened made a difference in the connection these men had with their dad. Using Connecting the Generations their dad was able to pick questions from the section for a younger person and read some aloud. Since oral reading is frequently preserved in those with Alzheimer’s disease, his sons were given the opportunity to share some aspects of their life while he presented a wide variety of questions.  Their dad was no longer able to create questions and it was heartwarming to see how a short visit turned into an hour of conversation and smiles as his sons were able to enhance the time they spent together.

Some older adults have used the topics as a way to journal their stories. One woman used the questions with her teenage granddaughter who decided to record their answers and make copies as a gift for other family members. The questions can be posted in senior residences or offered while waiting for a meal to be served to increase the connection of the residents.  One family member wrote answers to some of the questions for her dad to read aloud when people visited. He was no longer able to write or explain things easily but he was able to share some stories by reading aloud. This often led to more spontaneous comments on different subjects by all involved.

This resource can help people of all ages enjoy the journey of others when precious memories, powerful wisdom, and the humor are shared and then passed on to future generations.

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Budda

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