March 24, 2023 by
Lucy Gardner Carson
John Steele Taylor, M.D., assistant professor of neurological sciences
(MARCH 24, 2023) Commenting to Vermont Public on the social benefits of a new free-form card game designed for people with dementia called “(ho-dee-ay)” — phonetic spelling for the Latin word for “this day,” and in parentheses because the game’s creators “liked the idea of [players] being able to engage in the parentheses between the past and future” — John Steele Taylor, M.D., assistant professor of neurological sciences, said being socially isolated is “one of the worst things possible for the brain.”
For people with dementia, social interactions can be vital in slowing the disease’s progression. But as a person’s condition worsens, finding enjoyable things to do together can be difficult. Enter "(ho-dee-ay)," a square-shaped deck of cards that includes 23 pairs, each card with a beautiful photograph of a bird, created by Emily Rinkema of Westford and Deb Emerson of Burlington, with photographs by Essex wildlife photographer Peter Riley. Designed to be flexible and enjoyable whether players have dementia or not, the game has no rules. Players can invent their own game, sort the images into pairs or by color, or simply talk about which of the birds they’ve seen or not seen before. The goal is connecting, which experts say is key. “Social interactions, especially if they have a leisurely component, or a physical activity component, that’s ultimately the best way to exercise the brain,” Taylor said.
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