The other day, I took Gran with me to visit my mom. Mom has this antique Chinese checkers board that she leaves out on display, so we play more often than most people. I was wondering with Gran’s memory loss if she would be able to play.
Some things to note: Gran has always been COMPETITIVE. She plays for blood, regardless of the game. Once in high school, I was playing an innocent game of Spoons with her and my cousins. I laid my card down ahead of hers, so she clotheslined me, moved my card, and put hers down in its place. This was all pre-dementia.
Overall, she did well at the game. The problem was with me, who thought she needed more handicaps. At one point, I said, “That’s ok if you took your finger off the marble. You can continue to jump,” to which my boyfriend cried out, “Hey! The same rules apply to everyone!” But she has special needs, I thought.
By her next turn she wouldn’t dare take her finger off the marble. She’d hold it down, and look all around it for a “hopportunity.” Then she’d switch fingers and check for moves on the other side of the marble.
After every move she would say, “That’s it. I’m done. I quit. You can stick them up your butts.”
“You can’t quit in the middle of the game,” we argued.
Ten seconds later, she’d ask eagerly, “Is it my turn?” and reach overtop my mom to make her move out of line.
For the longest time I couldn’t always see the reward in caregiving or the point for activities. If they forget everything, what does it matter? The biggest takeaway is that they can learn something, even if it is for a moment. They are still people, who need interaction and to be a part of family events. In the end, she didn’t win, but perhaps I was the old dog in need of knowledge.
Here’s Gran in the heat of the game: