>Old People Say the Darndest Things

>For those of you that don’t know, I work at an independent/assisted living facility. I work with the assisted living residents. Most of them have some form of memory loss. Every Friday here on my blog I am sharing some of the funny things they say. I am a day late this week because I participated in Blog Boycott Day (which was tons o’ fun!)

And it improved my Klout score.

But I digress.

Here is one of the funnies from my week at work. Enjoy!

Evidence suggests that your brain is like a muscle and benefits from exercise. Many of the brain exercises I do with my residents involve short term memory practice. I try and test their short term memory every day. Some days are better than others.

This week we played a game I used to play with my children when they were younger. Actually, we play this game still. Here’s how it works. The first person in the game starts with “We are going to the beach (on a trip, camping, whatever) and I am bringing…”

In the game the first person has to bring something that starts with the letter A. The next person has to bring something that starts with the letter B and they have to repeat the letter A item. The third person has to bring something that starts with a C, has to repeat B and A and so on down through the alphabet. When you get to Z you have to repeat every single thing that has been brought, starting with the letter A.

It is a great brain workout and I encourage everyone to try it. The kids love it because quite often, they are better at it than the parents. All our children are in their teens or older and on the rare times that we play they still enjoy it…it’s great on long car trips.

Working your brain now can slow down memory loss later. For the love of your brain, play this game today. (That’s my soapbox stand. I’m done.)

The residents and I have been talking about family vacations because it’s June and lots of people go on vacation in June AND there’s a bonus, reminiscing is an excellent brain exercise. I decide to use this same theme in the alphabet remembering game. Sans the alphabet part. I start off with “We are all going on a beach vacation and we have to pack our suitcase. Madge, what will you bring?”

Madge will bring a blanket.

I go over with everyone that Madge is bringing a blanket for us to sit on.

“Doris, we are going on a beach vacation, Madge is bringing a blanket, what are you bringing?”

Doris is going to bring a bathing suit. In order to make the remembering easier I turn it into an ‘itsy bitsy, teeny, weeny, yellow polka dot bikini.’ Because unique items are easier to remember…sometimes. “Doris, you are bringing an itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny, yellow polka dot bikini, what is Madge bringing?” Doris can’t remember, someone else helps her remember and we continue, repeating the whole routine with each item as it is added.

Adding to the list. Remembering. Adding to the list. Remembering.

My addition of the itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny? No, it did not help. But we sang the answer every time and they enjoyed that.

More often than not it is the group remembering rather than each individual, but slowly more and more residents can recall items we started with because they have been repeated enough times.

And the game goes on.

Barry is bringing booze.

Marty is bringing snacks.

Each time I have the group start over at what Madge brought. I also begin with “We are going on a beach vacation and we need to pack a suitcase, what will you bring to the beach?” I use clues, hand gestures and anything I can think of to make the game successful for all participants.

It is a tedious game for me. Internally I am disbelieving that they can so quickly forget things and I get frustrated. Externally I play the eternally patient teacher. Then, when they do remember, and recognize that they remember, the look of success on their faces makes me ashamed of my impatience.

The game has progressed and I have asked about seven people what they are bringing. We are experiencing more and more successful recall. I see Hermione in the back waving her hand at me. “Hermione, we are going on a beach vacation, what are you bringing?” I think she is excited because she has something great to contribute. She waves me over, indicating she wants to speak privately.

As I lean in to hear what she has to say she whispers “I hate to tell you this but, I am not going to be able to go on this trip, I have family coming into town. You all are going to have to go without me.”

About three hours later Hermione pulls me aside again and asks, “Are you all packed for the trip?”

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