Did you know: Patients with Dementia are known to withdraw from activities they once loved, and spending time with friends and family.
However, it is critical that these patients maintain their interests and relationships, because it has been shown to reduce the effects that dementia causes, such as memory impairment. By participating in hobbies and social gatherings, those who suffer from dementia 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
If you’re caring for a patient with dementia, it can be difficult to come up with activities within your loved one’s capabilities. Additionally, providing the appropriate cognitive stimulation in these activities without adding unnecessary stress on the patient. Here are some guidelines to consider when coming up with effective activities for people with dementia.
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. 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. In addition, if the game involves some level of physical activity, that would be an added bonus. That said, not all activities need to involve physical exercise.
For people with dementia, establishing consistent routines is key – particularly in newly diagnosed patients. If you make these stimulating 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 patient at random.
Simple & Individualized:
By keeping these activities simple and individualized when possible, dementia patients 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 dementia. Brief activities offered several times per day are much more beneficial for these patients. When it comes to improving motor skills, housework and simple games can help to work towards a dementia patients goals. In addition, something as simple as listening to music can also be an incredibly calming and engaging activity. Every activity should be focused on the person themselves, rather than on their memory condition.
Use of Modern Technology:
Although it isn’t recommended to always use modern technology for activities with dementia patients, it can be helpful in some situations. For example, developers have created brain-training computer games for people with memory disorders. 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 a 10 year period. Person’s with dementia can also benefit from this type of brain and memory stimulation.
How Stimulating Activities Help Dementia Patients
Keeping up with a senior loved one’s interests and hobbies give them pleasure, and an improved quality of life.
These activities can help people with dementia:
- Increase self-esteem & self-awareness
- Build emotional connections with others
- Provide an outlet for those with dementia to feel more engaged
- Lessen irritability & anxiety, both of which are common in dementia patients
- Reignite positive memories
According to AARP.org, it is extremely important to continue creating meaningful activities for your parents and senior loved ones, not just activities which fill time. When deciding what activities to do with a person suffering from dementia, consider hobbies they once loved, knowing you may need to alter these activities for safety reasons. As a side note – it’s a good idea to remember the fact that dementia 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. Still, taking hobbies they once loved and making them a part of daily activities with a loved one with dementia can make a major difference in boosting their positive outlook on life.
Top 10 Stimulating Activities for Dementia Patients
Below, we’ve listed some of the best stimulating activities to help work multiple sensory areas with dementia patients:
- Cooking or Baking – Simple recipes or desserts your loved one with dementia enjoys.
- Arts and Crafts – Activities such as painting or knitting help to work many different areas of one’s brain. Keep patterns and tools simple.
- Tidy Up the House – Whether you sweep the patio, or do the laundry together, these activities are helpful for giving dementia patients a sense of accomplishment.
- Organize – This is a particularly positive activity for dementia patients who used to take great pride in their cleaning and organization skills.
- Read or Browse Through Books – Especially books the dementia patient used to enjoy reading. Even if reading isn’t done, simply browsing the book’s images can bring back positive memories.
- Watch some Family Home Videos – This is one of the best ways to bring a smile to their face.
- Newspaper – Keep your loved one with dementia up-to-date on some of the more mild news stories and events going on today.
- Listen to Music or Sing – This is not only stimulating, but very fun and enjoyable, too.
- Gardening – By keeping a garden, dementia patients 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.
- 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.
We hope you’re able to take this article into consideration next time you plan 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 they’d like to engage in. This should be about making the activity process as enjoyable for them as possible. Again, concentrate on the process of the activity and your loved one participating in it, rather than the results of the activity. What is most important, is that your time spent together is meaningful for the patient with dementia.