Opportunities to engage in enjoyable activities are an important aspect of a person’s life regardless of age. While people with dementia may seem out of touch and less inclined to seek out fun pursuits, they are still very much invested in chances to participate in enriching experiences.
People stricken with dementia gradually lose their cognitive functioning. Patients’ thinking, reasoning and memory are adversely affected. Consequently, people with dementia may no longer be able to fully engage in the hobbies and activities they enjoyed prior to their diagnosis.
Discover pleasurable activities that seniors with dementia can participate in, and they will experience cognitive stimulation, benefit from the opportunity to meaningfully connect with others and find greater comfort. Plus, physical activities boost their moods and strengthen muscles and balance. Caregivers who provide senior home care can engage in many beneficial activities with those with dementia.
Before embarking on a crusade to find fun activities, it is important to gauge how far the dementia has progressed. At its mildest stage, dementia just begins to affect the individual’s cognitive functioning. At its severest, the illness leaves the patient dependent on others for all daily activities.
Certain pursuits may be more appropriate for patients with mild memory impairment (beginning stages of dementia). Less-demanding activities are suitable for patients who are unable to communicate or who spend most of their time in bed (later stages of dementia).
Once activities are introduced into the life of the patient with dementia, it is helpful to establish a schedule. Predictable routines, which include fun and games, help the dementia patient by regulating their life. After all, dementia, which produces outbursts and delusions, feels out of control for the sufferer.
Choose fun activities that the senior agrees to pursue. For example, introducing a board game that the senior played with her small children might bring back fond memories for her. Such a choice is optimal when the dementia patient is able to recall long-gone memories more readily than recent ones.
Activities that seem mundane to younger people may adequately engage the senior with dementia. Buttering a slice of bread, tending the garden and similar minor pursuits are enough to stimulate a patient with dementia. Ordinary activities like these can be pursued daily and benefit the individual.
In fact, some seniors may have zero interest in participating in activities that involve a heavy dose of commotion. Certain group activities, going to a movie theater or playing bingo in a crowd may provide too much stimulation for a person with dementia.
At the early stages of dementia, the senior may enjoy trips to the local library, where she may peruse books. Library visits are especially fruitful for the elderly who love to read. Alternately, if the senior is unable to focus on reading, introduce her to audiobooks.
In the later phases of dementia, the patient who loves to read can still enjoy the written word. Loved ones or volunteers may read to the senior when she no longer has the capacity to do so. In severe dementia, the senior may enjoy simply looking at pictures in books.
If the senior is physically able, gardening provides tremendous joy. As dementia progresses, the senior’s capacities may dwindle. Still, the individual can spend time in nature by watering plants or weeding. When later stages of dementia overcome the senior, she may prefer to watch birds and squirrels.
A patient with early stages of dementia who once loved to cook may help out in the kitchen. As the disease takes hold, the senior will find plenty of enjoyment engaging in simpler activities, such as folding colorful towels or dinner napkins and arranging them in kitchen drawers.
Playing cards with extra-large numbers are often a good fit for seniors with dementia. While engaged in a game of cards, like blackjack or war, the senior is stimulated. Basic everyday skills, such as tying a shoelace, are preserved to the best extent possible when seniors’ senses are stimulated.
Pay attention to instances when the senior becomes frustrated or overwhelmed. Reduce their level of frustration by removing a few or even several cards from the deck. By eliminating the source causing feelings of overwhelm, the senior with dementia is better able to manage and enjoy the game.
Large floor puzzles can be fun for seniors with dementia to piece together. The typical floor puzzle features extra-large pieces, which are less discouraging than small ones for seniors to assemble. Create DIY puzzles by laminating a favorite family or scenic photograph and cutting it into large puzzles pieces.
The cognitive functions of seniors with dementia can be stimulated by reminiscence therapy. Loved ones who engage in reminiscence therapy with seniors create scrapbooks together, flip through old family photo albums or read greeting cards and letters from seasons long gone.
Some seniors may have once managed all aspects of the family’s finances. For such individuals, sorting coins is a fun way to help them remember when they were the head of the household. Sorting hardware, like bolts and screws, is equally effective for elders who were once woodworkers.
The most enjoyable activities are ones where the senior has the opportunity to engage with another individual. Caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care add an invaluable human touch to activities. We are trained to build relationships and provide sensory stimulation to dementia care recipients. Our professionals play card games, accompany seniors on walks and engage in pleasant conversations to keep seniors’ minds sharp and alert.
Caregivers who are skilled in dementia care offer more than meaningful companionship to seniors. As a part of our memory care services, we provide personal care, such as help with grooming, bathing and dressing. Our team of caregivers monitor the home to ensure the senior is safe during episodes of wandering.
As a premier home care agency, Assisting Hands Home Care is dedicated to providing compassionate memory care to seniors in DuPage County. Our caregivers offer the attentiveness to ensure your loved one receives the highest-quality elder care and lives with dignity.