My dad has a job at the nursing home now. He’s the party responsible for changing the calendar sign on the wing he lives on. Against all odds, he’s enjoying this task thoroughly, and making jokes about how “there’s no more free ride”. It’s been impossible to get him to help out in any other way, but he’s very pleased with this role.
I suspect he likes the routine, and is also happy that it doesn’t interfere with another favorite habit — spending the morning reading the Wall Street Journal. Now that his legs are increasingly bothersome, the trip to the placard is short enough that he can still manage it on his own — and “on his own” is a status he much prefers.
Finding ways to keep my dad mentally stimulated has been difficult. (I wrote about this previously in Therapeutic Recreation for Those Who Will Not Play.) A little while ago, I happened to mention Trivial Pursuit to the husband of a new resident when he had stopped by to say hello to my dad. He remembered the game, and said something positive about it; in the face of what looked a little like peer pressure, Dad did not immediately refuse to consider playing.
This sliver of non-rejection was enough for me. The recreation staff was more than willing to facilitate a game, and eBay, abundant provider of all things out-of-date, supplied a Genus edition, produced in 1982. The game is meant to be played on a board. Players draw cards and answer factual questions from six categories: geography; entertainment; history; art and literature; science and nature; and sports and leisure.
People who have a knack for trivia probably have an edge, but many of the answers have made their way into most people’s consciousness as a manifestation of the general culture. That this edition was published in 1982 is a bonus, since all the information needed was known prior to that date, and has only been reinforced over the decades since. For people whose long-term memory works better than the short-term, the Genus edition is just about perfect.
The guys dispensed with the board immediately, and got to work quizzing each other using only the cards. My dad won the first two matches, and his partner has won the most recent two. The battle rages . . . and the guys are having a good time razzing each other between bouts.
Dad’s got two new activities he enjoys — and enjoys anticipating. Mental stimulation, social interaction, a sense of belonging and even (who could have guessed?) a bit of fun. Whooohooo!