Fighting Dementia with Fun and Games

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Cher Bulthuis, a member of Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., has come up with a way to help dementia patients hang on to their abilities as well as connect with their families.

Kites & Candy is a game that brings out the abilities [people] hold on to as they progress further into dementia,” Bulthuis explained. “It is an excellent intergenerational activity that a grandfather might play with his grandchild.”

Bulthuis’s game uses flashcards to maintain the patient’s current working memory. The cards have questions such as “What are activities children do?” The possible answers on the card are “fly kites, eat candy, play with toys.” The cards help patients access their own memories as well as use them in a current context. The game can be used also for remembering sequences, patterns, and reading practice.

Bulhuis graduated from Calvin College as a therapeutic recreation specialist and spent 20 years working at Pine Rest Christian Hospital in Grand Rapids. It was while working with older patients there that she came up with an idea to help her dementia patients.

Bulthuis is now youth and education director at Calvin CRC.

About the Author

Kristin Schmitt is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Hudsonville, Michigan.