Useful Dementia Activities
When a loved one has Alzheimer’s or any type of dementia, being familiar with some helpful dementia activities is important. When a senior feels engaged, their days are more meaningful.
Maintaining a senior’s old interests and activities is as important as ever, and in some ways, even more important after a diagnosis. The right kind of dementia activities can help to reconnect a senior to their past, a comfortable feeling. Appropriate dementia activities can also help keep a senior’s brain engaged and stimulated.
Whether your loved one is at home or in a dementia care setting, here are some ideas for dementia activities to support his or her well-being.
A common mistake in caring for a senior with dementia is assuming they can no longer, or should no longer, be participating in favorite pastimes. Do not automatically abandon these favorite pastimes.
You may need to make adaptations to some passtimes so that your loved one can still participate in them. But make those changes as minor as possible to maximize independence and familiarity.
My mom loved to play bridge, but as her memory began to slip, playing bridge became a challenge. But when a family member went with her to her bridge group to help, she will still able to participate. And it’s amazing how patient and accepting other seniors are of their friends who have memory loss. Allow them to help.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts are one of the best dementia activities, for several reasons. First, they can be fun. Second, they give a senior a chance to use self-expression with no rules. Third, they provide seniors with something to do with their hands. Fidgeting, or not knowing what to do with one’s hands, is common in more advanced dementia.
Tending a garden can be a soothing dementia activity that also provides a sense of accomplishment. The rules of gardening can vary depending upon each individual person. Or perhaps there are no rules at all. And gardening brings seniors outside into the warmth and sunlight, both soothing by themselves.
You may not get excited at the thought of sweeping the floor or dusting the cabinets. But these familiar tasks provide seniors with dementia a sense of responsibility, independence, and accomplishment. And household chores are a familiar, grounding part of our everyday domestic lives.
My mom takes great pleasure in peeling oranges, or cutting up fruit, and putting it in a bowl so it’s easy to eat. (Yes, we do need to be careful with knives!) Even if the fruit doesn’t all get eaten, that’s okay. This dementia activity is comforting to her, and that’s all that matters.
What Are Other Dementia Activities?
Some seniors are comfortable using their computers and were even before their memories began to fade. If this is the case, continuing to use their computer for searches or for games can be comforting. Just be certain there is no computer activity taking place that could be illegal or intrusive.
Some video games may provide a chance to practice old skills and develop new ones in a controlled, safe environment. Games on a computer or hand held device are also good dementia activities because they offer a challenge and a reward.
Further, some games even have settings you can adjust for difficulty. So as memory loss becomes more pronounced, some games can be made easier.
Photo Albums or Family Videos
Watching family videos and looking through family albums is a wonderful dementia activity. What better way to reconnect with memories, and strengthen emotional bonds between family members.
Some seniors may enjoy looking through photos or watching videos with their children and grandchildren. It gives them a chance to tell stories and relive special moments.
And looking at photos of past travel or other significant events can trigger memories stirring a deep emotional connection. And since long-term memories may still be intact, these photos can be a source of profound comfort.
Activity Box or Blanket
A good dementia activity that provides sensory stimulation is an activity box or fidget blanket. And if you choose objects which are related to the person’s past, the box or blanket can invoke memories as well.
These helpful dementia activities can bring joy and meaning into the life of a loved one with dementia. Helping your loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia to stay engaged and connected can also greatly increase their quality of life.