Dementia care is about meeting a person’s emotional needs where they are.
Check out these dementia care activities to engage your loved one and create fun!
Why Activities Help
Dementia can cause people to withdraw from activities and shrink back from daily life and interaction.
As a caregiver, we understand that it can be challenging to get older adults with dementia to mingle or get involved.
While getting your elderly loved one involved in activities does not necessarily slow down the rate of dementia, activities will improve their quality of life.
Games, housework and some of the other activities we will discuss in this post will help with:
- Lessening agitation
- Reducing the chances of depression
- Get them moving so they don’t get pressure ulcers or circulatory problems from sitting in one spot all day
So even if your elderly loved one seems to be declining because of dementia, getting them involved in activities will enhance their lives.
Factors To Consider In Designing Dementia Care Activities
As you design fun dementia care activities for your loved one who has dementia, you will realize that some activities stick better than others.
You should expect this and plan more activities that revolve around those that bring your elderly loved one joy.
Here are 5 factors to consider as you begin planning out activities.
- Consider their old habits. Research shows that we form habits in a primitive part of our brains called the brain stem. In fact, in a series of studies by researchers at the University of California- San Diego, they found out that a patient with severe dementia was still able to carry out activities he had practiced for years even though he was not sure how he was doing them. Those old habits were still stored in the patient’s brain. It is a very likely situation for your loved one as well.
- Make activities failure free. If your elderly loved one is always “losing” at a game and you point it out, it could make for awkwardness and unwillingness to participate in anything.
- Keep the activities simple. Too many people or too much noise could be frustrating for a dementia patient.
- Select the best time of day for activities with your loved one. Are they more energetic in the mornings? A physical activity may be more appropriate then. Reading a book or watching a movie together may be more appropriate as an evening activity.
- Choose the activities they enjoy. As I mentioned before, find the dementia care activities that stick and create a routine around them. This makes for more predictability.
5 Fun Dementia Care Activities
Exercise has benefits no matter who you are.
As a caregiver, you can help your elderly loved one take a walk or lift weights (with caution and perhaps with lighter weights).
Whatever activity you settle on must be safe and not place them in physical danger.
Because dementia patients can be unaware of self, it is important to keep physical activities safe.
Browsing Pinterest will give you an endless stream of ideas for crafts.
If there was already a craft they were into because of habits they have built over the years, reintroduce those crafts to see if your loved one remembers.
Even if they have forgotten, it is likely they can be taught that activity again with ease as compared to a brand new activity they never did before.
Craft ideas include:
- Painting with watercolors
- Coloring pages
- Knitting simple patterns
- Paper crafts
Repetitive activity is great for dementia patients.
Turning over the soil, pulling weeds, planting seeds and watering and all repetitive activities when you’re gardening.
And of course, there is the added benefit of seeing all that hard work pay off when the seeds planted grow and flowers or vegetables or harvested.
4- Talk about the things they remember
For most people with dementia, while they may not remember most things, you will realize that they are able to describe events from their past with impressive detail.
If these memories are the kind where they talk about those events with joy, you can engage your elderly loved one in a discussion that gets them to talk more about those events.
5- Perform daily tasks together
Daily activities like cooking, baking, cleaning up after dinner and putting the dishes away can be a another fun activity for patients with dementia.
BONUS ACTIVITY: Music
There is now research that shows the effectiveness of music therapy.
According to this article published by the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, several studies have successfully shown that music therapy does in fact improve the mood and behavior of people with dementia.
To make it even more fun, play music from the era your elderly loved one grew up in.
It is no doubt difficult to have a loved one go through dementia.
While they may not remember certain people or events, they can participate in fun dementia care activities.
These activities will improve their mood and enhance their quality of life.