Activities to assist people with dementia

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Although your loved one with dementia may be able to live at home, it can be difficult to maintain and provide adequate care for that person as their dementia progresses. Letting the person live where they are familiar and most comfortable definitely seems like the right thing to do, but this is not always possible in all cases. However, if you are capable From playing the role of a caregiver to a person with dementia, there are many activities to do at home that will provide fun and may even spark memories and emotions.

Activities aimed at the caregiver of people with dementia

These are the 10 most meaningful activities at home that you or another caregiver can do with a person living with dementia, although it may be necessary to make appropriate adaptations depending on existing physical or cognitive limitations:

The games

As we already know, games appeal to people from all backgrounds and even all cultures, be it board games or computer games. Games hook people, thanks to their sense of fun and excitement, the same goes for people with dementia.

>> Games are stimulating and can lead to very positive interactions between people living with dementia and their carers (as well as family and friends). Everything from a game of cards, a quick round of bingo, dice, or even Scrabble can trigger recognition and/or memories of having played before and activating cognitive processes such as spelling and counting.

>> Matching games go a step further and introduce images into the mix, which some people may more easily respond to or identify with. Or, for people with late-stage dementia, there are tactile games that don’t require as much reliance on language, but use more sensory stimulation skills

All puzzles are excellent resources for engaging people with dementia, whether they are word-based or number-based brain teasers, they are perfect for people with early to mid-stage dementia. Thiss stimulate cognitive ability in various areas of the brain dealing primarily with communication, numbers, and language. Even if it is necessary to review the letters or numbers at the beginning of the activity, the puzzles can help reduce stress and increase confidence.

>> I discover cognitive stimulation games

Classic puzzles are some of the best there to stimulate participation and you can even let the person choose the image or theme of the puzzle. Classic puzzles not only exercise the parts of brain Spatial Recognition, rather, they help keep you healthy and may even slow the deterioration of the brain as dementia progresses. “Research has shown that when we dedicate ourselves to completing a puzzle, dopamine (chemical that makes us feel good) increases in our brain, which helps to feel happy. There is also a great sense of accomplishment, achievement and pride when one finally completes the puzzle.”

Expressing yourself creatively is a very human need, so colouring, drawing, painting, sculpting or any other type of visual art can be very liberating and calming for those living with dementia. Also, you don’t have to be a teacher to enjoy participating in an artistic activity, and can easily serve as scaffolding for the less dexterous. For example, if a person with advanced dementia cannot hold a pen, pencil, or other writing instrument, there are other artistic forms or media that can be tried, such as collages with pre-cut shapes or make scrapbooks with help to glue or fix them.

>> Discover our DIY activities

Listen to books or stories

If the person with dementia finds it difficult to read because of the limited attention span or frustration, listening to a caregiver story or an audio book can be just as engaging. Even if the recognition or understanding of language is limited, the voice can reassure those who are confined to a house or to a bed.

Photographs and objects

Looking at photographs, objects, or family heirlooms can be a good way to trigger memories, but even if they don’t, the images are visually stimulating and the objects can be interesting and enjoyable to look at. However, if you want to increase the chance that one of these objects will trigger a memory, you can tell the object’s story or try to “relive” it for the person while holding or looking at the object in question.

>> Know more: We create a memory box

Dementia and Occupational Therapy – Home caregiver and senior adult woman

Physical exercise

There are hundreds of videos online that demonstrate how to exercise, even when confined. Chair yoga has become very popular and there are many organizations that organize chair yoga sessions and offer them free of charge to educators or even carers of people with dementia. If mobility is not compromised, other forms of exercise can be fun and effective for people with dementia, such as swimming, minimal cardio or light weight lifting, or some forms of martial arts, such as Tai Chi or Qigong.

>> Learn more: Benefits of the multisensory room

  • Music and dance: Listening to music is a hobby that everyone likes and can transport them to a place or event from the past to enjoy and relax. Encourage, even if sitting, dance or sway listening to music reduces frustration, boredom and reluctance. Music can be enjoyed alone or become a very social pastime, and it activates many areas of the brain. Additionally, dance also helps get the blood pumping and muscles moving, enhancing agility and even improving balance.
  • Nature excursions: Spending time outdoors is a great way to physically, psychologically and emotionally stimulating a person with dementia If you can walk (or even push a wheelchair across a more or less level surface), taking a walk in nature is a great way to get physical exercise while engaging your other senses at the same time: detect sounds, smells, and textures in the environment.

Or if the person has a garden, it can be a great joint exercise to plant flowers or harvest fruits and vegetables, or even fill a bird feeder together. If none of these options are feasible, just sit on a porch, deck, or patio to watch and listen.

And if going outside is also not possible due to temperature or other factors, looking through a window can be just as enjoyable for people with dementia, pointing out colors outside and/or identifying animals that may pass by.

Cook

Cooking can be a great way to trigger memories through actions or spark interest with textures, smells, and tastes.

  • Take the initiative to prepare a recipe,
  • Be sure to include him to measure the ingredients, knead them, whisk them, etc., if he can do it.
  • Pay attention and be careful with hot water or ovens!
  • When you both see the result together, there is a real sense of accomplishment!

Taking care of pets or animals

For most, pets are a wonderful and welcome addition to any family or home:

  • Bonding with pets is a special event and can give humans a sense of love, warmth, and belonging.
  • Having a pet as a companion animal is great, but there are also many certified emotional support pets
  • Visit an animal rescue center or organization near you

Do you have any other suggestions or ideas to share with us? We look forward to your feedback!