Endless pairs

51l50%2bl8tml-_ss400_1Such and Such from Patch Products is essentially a game about pairs. As a timed competition, the idea is to read all five clues on your card and get your team to fill in the blank for each one before the minute timer tube runs out. In many groups, it’s fun to play by the competitive rules, but for groups of older adults, it’s also possible to play with a variety of adaptations.

First, each card with five clues and answers is about the size of a business card, so the type is tiny, and may be impossible for some older people to read. You may find you have to retype some cards or have a designated reader with superior vision.

Second, some answer pairs reflect specific knowledge about pop culture that older adults may not know. (Example: “The surviving members of TLC . . . Chili and T-Boz.”) However, that factor may even out in a mixed group because some answer pairs reflect knowledge from the 1950s or earlier that young people may not know either. (Ventriloquist “Edgar Bergen’s two most famous dummies . . . Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd.”)

If your group is made up entirely of older adults, you can simply pass on the questions your team doesn’t know. The opposing team has a chance to answer any questions the first team passed on, but they also might not know about the “Chewy fruit flavored candies named after two guys with rhyming names.” (Mike and Ike)

Anyone with a bit of time might pre-select questions to match your group, perhaps using another group to help make those selections. Personally, I find it fun to read through a random set of the mind-boggling 2500 pairs in the game, and see what I can name. Others might enjoy doing that, too. But in a group setting you want to be sure that people don’t get discouraged by being unable to fill in too many pairs in a row; pre-selection may help avoid that outcome.

Filling in blanks for pairs of things often works well among people with memory loss, because it taps into rote memory. Therefore, if you are working with people with dementia, you might try giving not just the clue, but the first word. For example, “The Latin abbreviations for morning and night are a.m. and ______.” (p.m.) Or “Bruises make you black and _____.” (blue)

This technique doesn’t work with all the clues, because some require specific knowledge. The answer to “They starred in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is” Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, but giving your group the clue, “Audrey Hepburn and _____” may not generate a memory of the second name.  And playing the game like Charades wouldn’t help in that case either.

But “first and foremost,” this whole “kit and caboodle” is more fun than “hide and seek.”  “Over and out.”

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