Qwirkle is a game, similar to dominoes, in which players match up shapes and colors.
It has proven beneficial to Alzheimer's patients. It aids at a cognitive level, adds mobility, and provides a social activity. That's what got John and Holly Schmid interested.
The Schmids own Best Alzheim-er's Products, which offers games and activities for people with Alzheimer's or dementia. Their website (best-alzheimers-products.com) offers help and information for those with loved ones touched by these afflictions.
That number includes the Schmids. A longtime friend was slowly overtaken by Alzheimer's over several years. She was without a family, and the Schmids became her caretakers, eventually helping her into a care facility. Along their journey they noticed the shortage of mentally stimulating games for such patients.
In 2007, John had been writing about Alzheimer's; soon the couple began offering products on their site.
"Qwirkle was one of first things we got for (our friend) to keep her busy and one of the first things we had when we opened the store," John says. "It's a neat game and can be used by people on many cognitive levels just by changing the rules or what you do with it."
Since then the Schmids have added about 400 products for patients at all levels. Other popular items are the Busy Bee Lap Pad, which offers tactile and visual stimuli for patients in later stages; a talking photo album that lets you record 10 minutes of audio for each of 20 different pictures; and the Twiddle Muff, a hand warmer with a squeezable ball inside and activities attached outside that comes in animal shapes. More are on the way.
"We'd like to see a point where our business is no longer needed," John says, "but I don't see that in the near future. More and more is going into research, but it's going to be awhile, I'm afraid."
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