You’ve probably read about which activities reduce the odds of developing dementia, but what about patients who already have it? It’s not uncommon for them to avoid social interaction or other stimulating pursuits out of shame or discomfort. They may even try to hide their symptoms or get frustrated when something seems too complicated for them.
As a caregiver or loved one, it’s essential to know how to keep a dementia patient engaged with their surroundings, regardless of their mental state. That way, they can receive the best quality of life available to them as their condition unfolds. We’ll go over some guidelines for selecting appropriate activities, followed by specific suggestions to try.
Choosing Appropriate Activities for Dementia Patients
Below, we’ll go over some tips for selecting the right activities for those suffering from dementia:
- Keep track of their current abilities: It’s vital to observe what the patient is still able to do and what they’re having trouble with. Are they able to maintain their hygiene, go to the store, or use their phone? Have you noticed anything out of character as their condition develops? Take note of what their current skills are in order to know which activities will be most suitable.
- Take note of subtle changes in their condition: As your loved one progresses in age, you may notice changes in their physical or cognitive abilities. Pay close attention to shifts in their flexibility, hearing, and mental activity. If you see signs that they’re becoming agitated or tired, take breaks as necessary.
- Avoid calling attention to what they can’t do: Some dementia patients experience shame when they find themselves unable to perform tasks they used to do with ease. For this reason, it’s best to offer help in a gentle way that doesn’t call attention to this.
- Focus on simple, enjoyable tasks: Dementia-friendly activities should be straightforward and fun. Which stress-free tasks does your loved one enjoy doing? They’ll get the most out of their days if you meet hem where they are and provide guidance where necessary.
- Be mindful of social settings: Socializing is a basic human need that’s essential for dementia sufferers. However, it’s easy for patients to get uncomfortable in new settings or large groups of people. It’s best to focus on smaller groups and familiar locations rather than overstimulating environments.
- Create a supportive community: Having the support of family and friends can make a huge difference in the quality of life for dementia patients. As a caregiver, consider creating a supportive group of familiar faces to help support your loved one through this challenging time.
Suitable Activities for Dementia Patients
Now that you know which factors to pay attention to while selecting appropriate activities, it’s time to go over some suitable choices. Below, you’ll find several activities that should be enjoyable for your loved one regardless of what stage they’re currently at:
- Listening to music: One great and easy way to improve a dementia patient’s mood is to listen to music that they love. Studies show that music is effective for lowering anxiety in those with cognitive issues. Not only can it call to mind positive memories, but music reduces agitation and provides simple enjoyment.
- Dancing: As long as your loved one is physically able, dance is a fantastic activity for physical health, balance, and general contentment. You can suggest dancing to the patient’s favorite song, taking an online class, or getting some relatives together for a mini dance party.
- Jigsaw puzzles: For individuals in the early stages of dementia, jigsaw puzzles (online or physical) are a stimulating activity. Select a theme that you know your loved one will enjoy and spend an afternoon doing the puzzle with them.
- Enjoying nature: Nature has calming effects on the mind, which can be invaluable for those suffering from dementia. Make some time for this, whether it’s taking walks outside, gifting your loved one with a low-maintenance plant, or spending some time in a garden.
- Card matching games: Consider buying or making a card matching game to play with your relative. This is a fun and easy activity that can support their memory and only takes a small amount of focus.
- Chair exercise: Chair exercises involve moving various body parts from a seated position. From raising the arms to torso twists or marching, chair exercises are a safe, low-impact option for getting some physical activity. You can find videos online for this or bring your loved one to a chair exercise class.
- Drawing or painting: Art is one of the best ways to create a serene, stress-free environment for dementia patients. Studies show that self-expression through art can build resilience, help with depression, anxiety, and more. Skill level doesn’t matter, and even those who are inexperienced with drawing or painting can have a great time with it.
- Playing with animals: Having a pet around is a quick way to boost your loved one’s mood, especially if they’ve had animals of their own in the past. If circumstances allow for it, consider bringing a dog or cat in to visit them. A stuffed animal can be a suitable substitute if you don’t have access to a real pet.
- Listening to stories: Many dementia patients have difficulty reading, but they may still enjoy listening to stories. You can bring in a book and read to them or find audiobooks for them to listen to when you aren’t around.
As you can see, you have plenty of options for activities to do with your loved one. The suggestions above should be agreeable and fun regardless of how far along their condition is.