Need ideas to help comfort and entertain a very sick Mom.
July 18, 2019 8:38 AM   Subscribe

My Mom has late-stage metastasized pancreatic and liver cancer, and is stuck in bed with very low energy most of the time. I bought her an iPad, and she likes simple puzzle/word games, can you suggest any games that a senior citizen with low energy would enjoy? Also, can you suggest any things we can do or buy to help her be more comfortable? Thank you.
posted by dacoit to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Two Dots is a simple yet addictive game.
posted by lyssabee at 8:45 AM on July 18

Simon Tatham's portable puzzle collection is available for IOS and has a bunch of low key puzzle games with no ads or annoying flashy things. They're mostly just kind of black and white or a few non-moving basic colours, so they're quite relaxing.

On the word game front, a lot of people enjoy Wordscapes. It does have ads, but paying to get rid of them is only a few dollars and then there's very little in the way of freemium purchases to be made. You could conceivably buy coins or hints, but it is easy to cheat with an anagram generator rather than paying to cheat.

If she uses the iPad a lot for this kind of game, she might find a stylus improves her pointing accuracy and also reduces strain on her shoulders from reaching across the iPad. Just an el-cheapo one from the dollar store, not a fancy electronic stylus like the iPad Pen.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:46 AM on July 18

7 Little Words. My father loved his water cup that had the straw in it for iced drinks-- looked like this.
posted by oflinkey at 8:47 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

I have a low tolerance for stress in games but like distraction etc., and I love the Zen Koi game. It was almost a self-care activity for me, distracting me while bringing me a sense of peace, and being sort of just stimulating enough to keep me going. It did get repetitive and boring after awhile, but that was okay too. It's not a puzzle or word game, so it might not be right, but maybe worth a try?
posted by ramble-on-prose at 8:47 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]

I really like the game CodyCross, which is a fairly simple crossword-style game. I like it because each round only takes about one to two minutes, so it's easy to play for really short periods.

What kind of discomfort is your mom experiencing? Cold, aches and pains, etc? I would try to get her as many loose-fitting clothes as possible, and stock up on warm blankets and lots of pillows (including body pillows, wedge pillows for under her legs, etc.). Maybe a warm water bottle for her feet? I bought some legwarmers and finger gloves when I had a cold last year and my house was chilly, and they worked wonders.
posted by backwards compatible at 8:58 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry that you're going through this. The game Hidden Folks is really cute and low-stress.
posted by GoldenEel at 8:58 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

When my dad was sick we got him a little electric bell he could ring if he needed anything. Not that we weren't always checking on him but I think it was a comfort to him knowing that he could reach us if he didn't have the energy to call.
posted by oh pollo! at 8:59 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

When I was doing chemo, I found I was very sensitive to dryness and dust. Bedrooms are absolute dust traps. An air purifier and a humidifier might make a big difference to your mom if she feels the same.
posted by DSime at 9:23 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]

I am not much of a screen gamer. I rarely play anything beyond Chess With Friends and some word games. The exception I completely enjoyed and highly recommend is Monument Valley on the iPad. It's low-intensity, loosely narrative-ish, and emotionally engaging without cloying or angst. Tap to give the protagonist a path through Escher-like puzzles to reach the goal. I found it engaging yet easy put down and come back to. Deservedly Apple's iPad game of the year in 2014 - it attracted many non-gamers like me.

May not be your Mom's cup of tea, but she may really like it.

Peace and comfort to you and your mother as you go through this.
posted by conscious matter at 9:30 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

I recently recommended Noodles, and would second that recommendation here. (And you might find some other good games on that post as well.)
posted by hydra77 at 9:37 AM on July 18

When my mother-in-law was ill with pancreatic cancer, she was constantly cold. We bought her an electric heated mattress pad and that helped both her coldness and her aching joints.
posted by Gray Duck at 9:48 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

Seconding Wordscapes and 7 Little Words

Flow is another easy but satisfying puzzle game
posted by Mchelly at 9:59 AM on July 18

I Love Hue is a nice color/pattern sorting game that is relaxing.
posted by topophilia at 10:16 AM on July 18

When I really need to zone out (or want something to keep my hands busy while I listen to an audiobook or podcast), I go for the classic: Bejeweled.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:18 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]

Lily's Garden is an absolutely addictive and pleasant puzzle game that has a fun story interspersed. Here's a nice little review for it.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 10:18 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

NYTimes Daily Mini CrossWord
posted by theora55 at 10:37 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

When my mother was succumbing to cancer, she found it very difficult to focus or concentrate on anything for long. So if your mother is able to do puzzles now, that's great, but you might need something more passive in the future. Music and podcasts are probably a good thing to try. I found some 1950's footage on Youtube of European cities she enjoyed travelling in. We watched those as a way to reminisce. As things advanced, she was happy to watch other people do things, but couldn't really directly participate herself. I tried reading to her out loud a bit, just so she could hear the sound of my voice. Or we would watch cooking shows on tv together.

Seconding a heated mattress pad or an electric throw blanket to keep the chill away. Regular lip balm and moisturiser. Foot rubs. A wedge pillow might also be useful.
posted by amusebuche at 11:16 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]

Came here to suggest Monument Valley and its sequel Monument Valley 2 are both works of art. They are short games, but you can set them down and pick them back up weeks later with no consequence.
posted by domo at 11:49 AM on July 18

If she doesn't already have a comfy bathrobe, that's a good option.

Sorry you're going through this. PC is a beast.
posted by praemunire at 12:16 PM on July 18

For short attention span word games, I enjoy Bonza. For puzzle games that are actual puzzles, I like Magic Puzzles.

Also: bed socks (which are not the same as regular socks) make a world of comfort difference.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:50 PM on July 18

Not a game, but my current addiction: color by number. I use Tap Color. It's $4.99 to remove ads and get unlimited hints (sometimes you can't find that only tiny square). Worth every penny. There are a ton of pictures to color. Everyday they release 7 new pictures, and a couple times a week they release 2 bonus pics on their FB page. This is one of the few reasons I keep FB around.
posted by kathrynm at 2:03 PM on July 18

[This is a response from an anonymous answerer.]
Weed. Smoke it or a THC vape to more closely control dose. Good for appetite, nausea, pain and mood.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:42 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]

Memail me if you want the specs on how I put this together.
posted by queen anne's remorse at 7:55 PM on July 18

Thank you everyone for these really helpful suggestions!
posted by dacoit at 6:50 AM on July 19

Wordlings. It has four different kinds of word puzzles, with each new one unlocking when you've gotten decent at the current one. Each one can be played as "timeless" or "timed", with difficulty levels of "common", "rare", "epic", and "tournament".

A jigsaw puzzle app could be good, too; they're easy to adjust skill level for and I find them very soothing. Some of them let you use your own photos, so if it would be a comfort for her, she could do puzzles of pictures of her life.
posted by current resident at 9:32 AM on July 19

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