There are many ways to engage your loved one who struggles with dementia and in this blog post we will explore a few of those options! For the older adults who have dementia, lack of stimulation and activity can be quite frustrating. To prevent boredom and encourage activity participation it is important to make sure your loved one still feels productive and engaged in life.
There are a number of activities that you can do at home that we will explore below:
Reminiscing is all about looking back at past memories, specifically the ones that bring back good feelings. For those who are living with dementia, this is a great way of engaging in meaningful conversation as well as increasing feelings of connection and belonging. Photos or images can help spark the conversation. Ask about a favorite holiday or childhood memory and you will find that the conversation will really start flowing!
2.) Physical Activity & Exercise
Physical activity output is very important to incorporate each day for older adults who have dementia, as it can help prevent sleepless nights and restlessness. Try going outside for a walk either at a local park or simply around the neighborhood. Seated stretching, breathing exercises, and the use of light hand weights are simple ways to ensure movement throughout the day. Another great activity is gardening because it also presents the opportunity to get outside!
3.) Cooking & Baking
Helping prepare food is an activity many people enjoy throughout their lifetime. Ask the older adult to help clean surfaces, rinse dishes, measure certain items, read the instructions aloud, help chop or rinse ingredients, or organize the cooking utensils. Cooking can have the potential to help calm and even increase appetite. It can also provide familiar sensory stimulation with smells, textures, and taste.
4.) Music Therapy
Music can be soothing and quite comforting. Choose an artist they love or a genre of music that makes them happy. You can even look up old music videos or videos of past performances from that artist. Try making a playlist in iTunes or on Spotify together!
5.) Daily Household Tasks
There are a number of simple tasks around the house that can help make your loved one feel productive including: folding clothes and/or towels, sorting silverware, pairing socks out of the laundry or sweeping.
Try using old calendars and make puzzles out of them, cut the pieces into large, easy shapes. Old jigsaw puzzles are also a fun activity, just be sure that the number count is not too high which makes it too difficult. Crossword puzzles in large print can be another option as well!
Try using different color buttons and ask the older adult to put all of the green buttons together, or just match different colors or sizes together. Also, they can put buttons with two holes together etc. You can also sort different articles of clothing, coins, cards or dominoes, even a bag of M&M’s! Take a look around the house to find some other easy ideas of items to sort.
These 7 ideas are just a few ways to get started offering some activity stimulation for your loved one struggling with dementia. It is important to be patient while introducing anything new to the daily routine and not to get discouraged if you experience resistance from your loved one. Take a break and try again later that day or revisit the activity at a later date. Keep in mind what matters most – that these activities are enjoyable and create a sense of purpose day to day.