Finding enjoyable activities for seniors with dementia is all about planning ahead and playing to one’s strengths. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can cause significant changes in a person’s ability to communicate and remain independent. Therefore, caregivers are often responsible for finding activities that will help improve their loved one’s quality of life as they age.
Though challenging at times, stimulating activities will help your loved one feel more connected. Everyone is different, and depending on the stage of their condition, these activities may be difficult. Still, for patients who respond well, here are some quality activities for seniors with dementia.
5 Activities for Seniors with Dementia
1. Organize a Memory Box
Most people with dementia find it easier to recall their long-term memories. These recollections can date back to their earlier adult years or even their childhood. These strong connections represent an avenue that caregivers can use to help someone regain portions of their identity. Strengthening this part of their mind will also help them create new memories when possible.
A memory box contains items that are associated with the earlier parts of someone’s life. These sentimental objects will help your loved one recall their long-term memories. Since smell is closely linked to memory, it’s a good idea to fill a memory box with soaps, perfumes, and aftershave. You can even include candles or essential oils that will remind them of special times. For instance, you can try holiday scents such as peppermint and gingerbread.
2. Browse Family Photo Albums
Although our digital world is making them rarer, photo albums represent a great way for someone to reconnect with their identity. Again, some of the most effective pictures will be from someone’s childhood or adolescent years. They should also include major life events like weddings, graduations, or a child’s birth. If these pictures are unavailable, old magazines or periodicals are a good alternative. These snippets will bring back memories of defining historical moments and other cultural events.
3. Listen to Music
For many people growing up in the ’40s and ’50s, music played an enormous part in defining their youth. Playing someone’s favorite dance numbers or folk tunes have been proven to unlock deep associations within the brain, making an amazing difference in recall. With the internet, it’s easier than ever to stream music using applications like Spotify and Pandora, or other sites like YouTube.
Listening through speakers can help avoid uncomfortable headphones or ear damage. Otherwise, finding a solid playlist for your loved one is something that is cheap, easy, and often very effective.
4. Go for a Nature Walk
A common problem with activities for seniors with dementia is getting stuck indoors. This is because many seniors with cognitive disorders lack the ability to navigate in public spaces by themselves.Walking outside is a fantastic way to get some exercise while encouraging interaction with others. It can also very calming to simply enjoy and the sights, sounds, and smells of nature.
As always, make sure to sport proper footwear and dress appropriately for the weather. It’s also important to remember that someone with dementia may have trouble communicating their needs. You should always be aware of how someone under your care is handling hot and sunny climates. So remain mindful, find an easy walking path, and get some fresh air!
5. Use Old Skills
An essential way to strengthen someone’s wellbeing is to help them follow their passions, hobbies, and skills. Examples include knitting, woodworking, gardening, writing, playing music — any activity that consumed a large portion of a person’s life because they genuinely enjoyed it!
If you don’t have the resources available at home, try finding classes to attend with other seniors who have similar interests. This allows seniors to socialize with others while reawakening old passions and potentially building new skills in the process.
Although these conditions can be extremely debilitating, there are many ways you can help. Try some of these activities for seniors with dementia and let us know how they go! If you have any suggestions for other activities you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments below.