Working with low level patients that have dementia can be a challenge when your goal is to find treatment activities that are both purposeful and fun.
Dominos are not only familiar, but they provide smooth tactile input, are visually stimulating and you can easily grade this activity.
This domino match game can used as an independent activity with intermittent cuing or even in a group setting.
I am currently using this activity with a patient that is an Allen Cognitive Level 3.0 to increase social participation, increase daytime arousal and decrease adverse behaviors as part of a sensory diet.
Key Considerations to Using Dominos with Your Patients That Have Dementia:
- You could easily have the patient complete in standing to discourage sitting for long periods of time
- Because stacking, sorting, and placing of the dominos can be set up as a repetitive activity, it is perfect for someone that is around an ACL of a 3.0
- You will have to determine how much stimulation is "too much" and they may be able to tolerate or need more/less at different times throughout the day
- Cues may be indicated to continue to participate
- Complete set up will be necessary and limiting the number of dominos may be necessary depending on the client's specific needs to succeed!
- Set of colorful dominos (like these)
- Photocopy of Dominos
How to Make Your Own:
I first took out the lower numbered dominos from my deluxe set, as I wanted to start with the traditional dominos that most people are familiar with.
Next, I laid them out on the copier so I could make some copies, but the SNF that I was working at did not have a colored copy machine, so they came out in black and white.
Because they were black and white, I colored the dots to coordinate with the colors on the dominos.
I next cut the domino copies in different sized strips. If you have a patient that has a low cognitive level, they may only be able to match 3 at a time or someone with a higher level may be able to do 6 or more.
Place them horizontally vs vertically for the patient, as we tend to look left to right in the direction of reading and tape them down to the table.
You can have them match the color of the dominos, stack the dominos, match the number on the dominos or even have them take the dominos out of the tin and put them away.
Another option would be to laminate the domino copies so you can use them over and over with other patients. Enjoy!
How else could you use this domino match game in your practice? Comment below!
If you are looking for other treatment ideas for people with dementia, check out Alzheimer's Bathing Battles
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I love this idea! I work at a site with a primarily Chinese population, so I’m thinking I will do this with a Mahjong set.
what a great idea and client centered!!
I would also love the color copy of this domino match game but the link wont work for me either. I’ve tried it a few times but it just keeps loading and never sends it.
sent it over – check your inbox/spam. I WILL get that link fixed if it kills me! 🙂
I will check the link. I sent it to you – check your email!
I LOVE using dominoes in my treatment!! In addition to the ideas you’ve listed above I also like to use the dominoes for sequencing. So start with the blank/one and connect the Two/three and so on until they have blank-12 in correct sequence. I also some times have them sort by number or color. And I also like to do in hand manipulation/bilateral coordination techniques – flipping them over, stacking, etc. the possibilities are endless and like you said almost all elderly patients love dominoes!! I have a CVA patient right now who gets easily frustrated working on hand function, so we use the dominoes for skills practice and then as a reward we play a round of dominoes for fun and he’s allowed to use his good hand to help.
awesome ideas Lindsey! I agree, there are so many ways to use dominoes plus familiar and fun. 🙂
I do in-home speech therapy and the sequencing idea is great! Thanks!
And using the dominoes for matching games is a great idea too! Thanks!
Hi Mandy, I have been following your page for awhile and I really appreciate it! I am an OT student going on my first fieldwork on Monday- I am nervous for it but excited. I will be working with clients with dementia so articles like this help me a lot! I appreciate you publishing these ideas and such.
Congrats Riley on OT school and going on your first fieldwork – so exciting! Happy to answer questions if you need it. 🙂
I’m a COTA with a year’s experience under my gait belt & transitioned from non healthcare professions. I work with seniors treating in subacute and outpatient settings. In addition, prior to becoming a COTA, I was a caregiver for a family member which has helped
me become a compassion therapist.
ha – I have a few more years under my gait belt, but I completely understand how being a caregiver yourself influences the care and compassion you give to your patients, as I grew up helping take care of my grandfather myself. Thanks for visiting and it so nice to connect!
Thanks for the copies! I’m going to laminate these and make the dots on the lamination with puff paints for low vision clients. They can then hone their finger tip touch sensation skills to play the game and for younger clients who are able to learn braille.
That is such a great idea Jane. I love how everyone is sharing ideas and giving new and innovative ideas for treatment! Thank you
Great idea. Thanks.
No problem, Sasha! Hope it was helpful 🙂
I love this idea! I recently found out that my patient loves playing dominoes but because of dementia he is having difficulty focusing on the rules of the game. Instead, he focuses on whether “all the set pieces are there”. This would be a great idea to include dominoes into treatment with a therapeutic purpose.
Because I never grew up playing dominos, for a long time I didn’t fully realize the potential for treatment options – plus they are so fun!
I like how familiar dominoes are to this population. I normally use geometric shapes but it’s not very familiar and often too overwhelming. I’d love to make a Velcro dot version on a vertical surface as well for other patients with various Physical goals. Thanks!
Great idea Marissa! I have seen that done with a deck of cards, but you could totally do this with dominos. There are so many options for dominos, not just for people with dementia. Thanks for the insight