We have become a shell company. Our days are often spent looking at screens rather than at each other. I am no exception.
There are digital versions of almost everything these days, including traditional board games. While the apps can be practical and beneficial, the feeling isn’t the same – using touch pieces is part of the fun.
If you’ve played Monopoly, do you remember the feeling of buying Park Place and reaching out to place a hotel on your coveted property? How about the feeling of accomplishment adding the final piece of “pie” to your Trivial Pursuit game piece? These are some of life’s little victories, and sitting around a table with family and friends on a game night creates memories that last a lifetime.
Playing games is fun, but for those of us with Parkinson’s disease it can also be beneficial. Different board and card games require us to exercise motor and cognitive skills that can be impaired by Parkinson’s disease. Practicing these skills could help slow disease progression and improve functioning.
My husband, Mike, and I recently decided to release our board games. The “DePorterville” play closet looked like a scene from “Toy Story”. I imagined the rooms talking to each other, hoping the door would open. Which game would I choose? Which one could combine exercise and music in my Parkinson’s toolkit?
The shelves were full of games, the skill level of which ranged from kindergarten to college. Some boxes were tattered and torn, while others had not been opened. It was clear who had been the favorites on past family game nights.
An unplugged play date
I wouldn’t have predicted that table tennis would be an ideal activity for Mike and me. It is a cardio exercise that requires hand-eye coordination, which can be affected by Parkinson’s disease. But we laugh at ourselves, and laughter is said to be the best medicine.
We also went with one of the more basic card games, gin rummy, which uses a standard deck of 52 playing cards. But we love to create our own versions and are creative with the rules to keep the game moving. Sometimes we score every hand, and sometimes we play for five wins or best of five rounds.
All versions of the game incorporate physical and cognitive exercises for Parkinson’s disease. Here are several skills I can practice while playing cards:
- Shuffling and dealing the cards involves multitasking and coordination.
- Holding and organizing cards requires sequencing and dexterity.
- Remembering maps requires working memory.
- Making a great game includes everything.
No play date? no problem
Independent card games like Memory or Solitaire can also do the trick for those of us with Parkinson’s disease. Playing alone is an exercise in concentration.
If cards aren’t your favorite, try games that involve words, pictures, and letters:
- Play I Spy while looking at books or your surroundings.
- Do word searches.
- Use adult coloring books. (It’s OK to break the lines!)
- Do chunky puzzles. You can make your own by cutting out old Christmas or birthday cards.
- Build something. Find this bin of Legos hidden at the back of the closet. Use both hands to manipulate the colorful pieces into a masterpiece. The possibilities are limitless.
Keep your mind and body active by putting down the screen and playing!
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