Sorting or matching cards with beautiful images on them is a wonderful activity for someone in the mid to late stages of Alzheimer’s/ dementia! I had a hard time finding ones that weren’t too juvenile, so I made my own. I found that using old calendars (buy 3 at a time so you have a spare!) was an easy and cost-effective way to get some really beautiful images. I bought some calendars from The Sierra Club that were on sale for a couple of dollars at the local bookstore that were perfect. February and March are good times to find calendars on sale but you can go online and find them any time of the year- Look for past years for better prices. I was lucky and got mine at AC Moore for $1.99 on the sale rack in March. Almost everyone can appreciate nature images (including me!….I absolutely love looking at these.) Any calendars with pictures that might appeal to your loved one with Alzheimer’s will work. You could also use your own photos or even art or travel books if you can find them for a good price.
I have a Scotch brand laminator that I purchased at BJ’s- the big warehouse store. I paid about $30.00 for it on sale and the plastic laminating sheets are about $12.00 for a box of 65. If you just need the laminator for this one time project, ask around and hopefully you can borrow one. (Most offices have a laminator and you could just buy a box of the laminator pages.) I cut 40 cards (2 of each image) to measure 5 X 6.5 with a scrapbooking paper cutter and mounted them (with just a dab of glue from glue stick) on card stock paper. You don’t have to use a special paper cutter machine but I found it easier and much more accurate.
Use one color of card stock so that “Concentration Memory” game can be played, although I find these cards are used for matching and sorting by most of my participants/ residents.. If a person has limited short-term memory, sorting/matching the cards is much less frustrating than playing a memory game with them.
NOTE: when you cut the excess laminated plastic around the cards, leave at least a 1/8″ border of plastic so that they can’t be peeled apart!
As with puzzles, checkers, or anything with multiple pieces, it is up to the caregiver to make sure that they don’t get lost or “taken”. I laminate constantly because I have found that everything lasts longer and can be wiped off.
This project takes some time to do but my Residents use them every day – so it is well worth the time! It’s a great assignment for a capable volunteer too.