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Fine Motor Skills Exercises

Playing Cards

Did you know that our Seniors can benefit a lot from playing cards?

Oh yes! A lot of our Seniors love playing cards like Solitaire, Crazy 8s, Go Fish, Black Jack or any other family made games using cards. It is indeed a favorite past time for the elderly. Wherever I visit a Senior, whether its in their own home, a care home or in assisted living I would always notice a deck of card tucked in somewhere on the counter top or a table.

Well, I did mention benefit, right? Oh yes, just recently we had a client come home from the hospital after she broke her left upper arm. To promote healing of the bone without needing surgery, that arm and hand was left immobile for at least a good four weeks which therefore resulted to a little bit of muscle stiffness all down to the lower arm, some swelling too down to the fingers which then made it very sore to even move a finger. Well, one problem resulting to more alright. That is not so good. This little senior of ours was visited by a Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist at home to get her back to how that arm was before the fall. Obviously there were a lot more reasons why she fell and rehabilitation took longer than expected but during all these home health visits, treatments, therapies and rehab, our caregiver in between trying to promote more hand and finger movements to help bring the swelling down, have thought of utilizing the client's love for playing cards. Our Senior loved Solitaire... games began with the caregiver taking precedence to prepare the cards and our Senior starts her game with the good hand. Later on she slowly encourage our Senior to involve the left hand by holding the deck of cards when playing. Towards the end of her Physical Therapy when the hands and fingers were not too swollen, movement came more easier. Our client can now manage to do more with the afftected left hand and uses it more with playing cards but not just holding the deck but actually involving it to pick up cards, sort it out etc.

Unknowingly to our client, this card playing is a good technique and therapy for her bad arm, hand and fingers. Use of the fingers and hands during the game of Solitaire, with motions that include picking up the card, decking of cards, distributing cards one by one from the deck, all takes are a good grasp, great finger movement and hand strength. These simple and unconscious exercises are what we call fine motor skills wherein the tiny muscles in our fingers and hands are used and strengthened in order to promote better movement and more coordinated motions.

Oooops, sorry I am getting too carried away with this ... but the main thing is using this very simple and yet innovative way of game of cards can actually help our Seniors improve their hand and finger movements. Don't take me wrong, playing cards is not replacement for the exercises and therapy she needs but more so supplemental therapy. Whether they are recovering from an injury or just suffering from a bad arthritis these simple fine motor skills can help. Squeezing a soft ball is another example of this exercise.

Give your Senior some tender, loving care, not just the routine work we have to do around them. Sometimes all they need and want is for someone to be there and talk or just listen to their tall tales and you could be named the best caregiver in the whole world. Remember, our clients are our treasure so take good care of them.

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