Backpack program helps seniors with memory loss

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Posted: Friday, September 14, 2012 9:29 am

SARASOTA - According to the Mayo Clinic, seniors who play games and participate in crafts have a 30% to 50% decrease in memory loss compared to those not as active. That's why one organization created a backpack program for seniors, with games to help keep their minds active.

It's a program that has brought back memories for Bradenton resident Olly Daly. "We played different games, but poker was one of them because it's an easy game to play," Daly said.

It's a game that was a favorite pasttime for Daly and her husband. "All the people we played with, poker, are either dead or living someplace else now because they've all moved on," Daly said.

And as her friends faded away, so did her memory of the game. Until now. "The girls were here, and someone brought up about playing cards and I said sure we can play cards," Daly said. "I had forgotten how to play cards."

Olly is just one of many seniors with dementia that is benefiting from a program put on by Senior Helpers, an organization that connects caregivers with seniors who live at home.

"We find a great need in the community for activities that trigger the minds of our clients," said Senior Helper's Case Manager Barbara Raskowski.

Which is why they provide for their clients senior backpacks including things such as crossword puzzles, fake flowers to arrange, and even games that will bring back memories such as cards or even an Etch-A-Sketch.

"We specialize in Alzheimer's and dementia so we take time out to research and develop everything that we do," Raskowki said. "And direct it toward them."

Raskowski said even more with with studies showing significant decreases in memory loss and even that diseased brains have the ability to make new neurological connections when kept active.

"Alzheimer's and dementia needs to be targeted and the regression of the disease needs to slow down. So anything we can do to help that is very good," Raskowski said.

Senior Helpers workers said some good games to play with your elderly family members include Bingo, board games such as Monopoly, Smart Brain and Qwirkle.

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