Did you know: Patients with dementia disease commonly withdraw from activities they once loved and spending time with friends and family.

These dementia patients must maintain their interests and relationships because it has been shown to reduce the effects that dementia causes, such as memory problems or cognitive impairment. By participating in hobbies and social interaction, those who suffer from stages of memory loss will experience a better quality of life.

In this article, we will cover the top 10 activities for dementia patients – all of which encourage stimulation of the brain, helping to improve one’s memory function.

Guidelines: Effective Activities for People with Dementia

Dementia is the name for a group of brain disorders that affect the cognitive function and ability to think and remember things, control one’s emotions, and make sound decisions. It is more severe than typical short-term memory loss that happens as part of the normal aging process. High cholesterol levels in the blood, high blood pressure, lack of blood flow to the brain tissue, nerve cells, and brain cells, diabetes, and obesity can all play a factor in a person’s risk of dementia disease. There are several types of cognitive problems that fall under the heading of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia. Many times Alzheimer’s and dementia are used interchangeably in articles and conversations since many of the signs and early stages appear to be the same. Sometimes Alzheimer’s can even be called Alzheimer’s dementia. Other forms of dementia include progressive dementia, Parkinson’s disease, vascular dementia, Huntington’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, multi-infarct dementia, Pick’s disease, and Lewy body dementia, among others

If you’re caring for a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it can be challenging to come up with social activities within your loved one’s capabilities, while still challenging their cognitive functioning. Here are some guidelines to consider when coming up with practical daily living activities for people with dementia or memory impairment.

Consider the Needs of the Individual:

As a general rule of thumb, games that engage several cognitive levels are better than games that do not account for those that have stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s symptoms. For example, a board game that features a colorful board, pieces to move around, and objects that can be handled, would be a better choice for a patient with dementia than a game without those features. It’s best to choose activities with a high level of sensory stimulation to help those with cognitive decline. If the game involves some degree of physical activity, that would be a bonus to help with impairment of memory and aging. That said, not all activities need to involve physical exercise but can include problem-solving skills to be used while seated for those with a decline in memory problems.

Consistency: 

For those with dementia-like symptoms, establishing consistent routines is vital – particularly in patients with a recent diagnosis of dementia or early-onset Alzheimer’s in an attempt of preventing memory loss. If you make individualized care and activities a daily or weekly routine, you’ll find more positive benefits of doing them than if you were to, say, play stimulating games with the dementia residents at random.

Simple & Individualized:

By keeping these activities simple and individualized when possible, people with age-related memory loss or cognitive problems may appreciate them more and even feel a personal connection to them. According to research, structured activities in large groups rarely work for those with symptoms of dementia. Brief activities offered several times per day are much more beneficial for those with mild cognitive impairment or a form of dementia.

When it comes to improving motor skills, housework, hygiene, bathing, making meals, and simple games can help to work towards a dementia and Alzheimer’s disease patient’s goals. Something as simple as listening to music can also be an incredibly calming and engaging activity that can help relieve stress and lower blood pressure. Every event should be focused on the person themselves rather than on their memory loss and forgetfulness and diagnosis. Sometimes therapy, over the counter drugs, or medications can help somewhat with memory loss and dementia.

Use of Modern Technology:

Although it isn’t recommended for a caregiver or medical professionals to continually use modern technology for activities with dementia patients during in-home care, it can be helpful in some situations and support other activities you are doing with them. For example, developers have created brain-training computer games as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s, dementia, or memory lapses. A study of 2,800 people over the age of 65 found that those who did a brain-training computer game intended to boost a person’s brain processing speed were 29% less likely to develop dementia over the course of ten years. Residents with dementia can also benefit from this type of brain and Alzheimer’s treatment.

How Stimulating Activities Help Dementia Patients

Keeping up with older adults’ interests and hobbies gives them pleasure and improves daily living.

These activities can help those with signs and symptoms of dementia:

  • Increase self-esteem & self-awareness
  • Build emotional connections with others and a sense of community
  • Provide an outlet for those with dementia to feel more engaged
  • Lessen irritability & anxiety, both of which are normal in dementia patients
  • Reignite positive memories and improve the overall health of those suffering from dementia and signs of Alzheimer’s disease

According to AARP.org, it is imperative to continue creating meaningful mental activities for your aging parents and senior loved ones, not just activities that fill time for those with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or a type of dementia. When dementia or Alzheimer’s caregivers are deciding what activities and exercises to do with a person suffering from memory loss, consider hobbies they once loved. Keep in mind you may need to alter these senior living activities for safety reasons and to lower risk factors to them or others. As a side note – it’s a good idea to remember the fact that dementia disease or Alzheimer’s disease affects a person’s behavior and senses, not just their memory. With that said, some activities may be too overwhelming or frustrating for these individuals with mid-stage dementia or late-stage dementia. Taking hobbies your loved one with long-term memory loss once loved and making them a part of daily activities can make a significant difference in boosting their positive outlook on life and improving their health and well-being. 

At some point, you may want to consider moving your loved one to a memory care residence, when you can no longer monitor them 24/7 and provide the constant support they require. They may benefit from living in memory care facilities, senior living communities, hospice care, or Alzheimer’s care facilities, where they can be supervised and receive a specialized continuum of care from professional staff, caregivers, or licensed nurses 24/7.

Top 10 Stimulating Activities for Dementia Patients

Below, we’ve listed some of the best stimulating activities of daily living to help work multiple sensory areas with dementia or Alzheimer’s patients:

  1. Cooking or Baking – Making simple recipes or desserts your loved one with signs of dementia enjoys can improve their mental health.
  2. Arts and Crafts – Specialized activities such as painting or knitting help exercise many different areas of one’s brain for those with early signs of memory impairment. When you are in charge of the long-term care of a person with Alzheimer’s or a stage of dementia, keep patterns and tools simple, and provide assistance when necessary.
  3. Tidy Up the House – Whether you sweep the patio, or do the laundry together, these activities help give mild dementia patients a sense of accomplishment since they are solving problems in their living spaces.
  4. Organize – This is a particularly positive activity for dementia patients who used to take great pride in their cleaning and organization skills, and helps maintain their alertness to the environment around them. 
  5. Read or Browse Through Books – Especially books, the patient living with dementia used to enjoy reading. Even if reading isn’t done, merely browsing the book’s images can bring back positive memories and help with forgetfulness.
  6. Watch some Family Home Videos – This is one of the best ways to bring a smile to the face of someone with mild cognitive problems or early Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  7. Newspaper – Keep your loved one with dementia or stages of Alzheimer’s disease up-to-date on some of the more mild news stories and events going on today.
  8. Listen to Music or Sing – This is not only stimulating but very fun and enjoyable for those with most types of dementia as a part of their continuum of care routine. Music can also help stave off the depression and anxiety that typically comes along with dementia.
  9. Gardening – By keeping a garden, those with various forms of dementia are given the ability to watch things grow, and a sense of pride and accomplishment when their garden flourishes. Another idea on the same note would be to take them to your local botanical garden to help improve the mental health of those with a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
  10. Work on Puzzles – According to doctors specializing in memory care, puzzles can be one of the best and positive activities for those struggling with dementia symptoms ranging from mild to severe dementia.

Conclusion 

We hope you’re able to consider this article next time you plan dementia treatment activities for a loved one with dementia. Remember, if you find your parent or senior loved one resisting any given activity, give that specific activity a break. You could try again later, or ask your senior loved one if there are any other types of activities or events they’d like to engage in. This should be about making the activity process as enjoyable as possible for those in need of Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Concentrate on the act of the activity itself and your loved one participating in it, rather than the results of the senior care activity. What is most important is that your time spent together is meaningful for the patient with dementia.