Written by Josh Horsman
Caring for a loved-one with Dementia is undeniably challenging, often isolating and sometimes heartbreaking. But what many people don’t truly appreciate until they experience such a situation for themselves is that it is also full of fun and precious moments that can be treasured for a lifetime. People living with Dementia may be often confused and quick to forget experiences and interactions, but that’s exactly why individual moments become so important. For both carer and patient, the aim should be to create as many moments where both are happy, content and enjoying themselves as possible, creating memories that will last even long after the person has passed.
Here’s a collection of activities you and your loved-one with Dementia will love doing together:
These activities help those with Dementia to recall long-term memories, often from their childhood or youth. This helps to fight stress and agitation, bringing happiness and calm.
Create a Memory Box: A memory box is a box in which you put items that will remind your loved-one of elements of their life and history or treasured people and places. Then you can have them rummage in the box and pick out items to discuss. The idea is to use items made from different material to make a sensory experience that will stimulate their brain in several different ways.
Listen to Music: A universally soothing activity, listening to music from their past will help them remember the good times associated with the music. Not sure how music ties into memory? Just think – do you remember how you learned the alphabet?
Dig Out the Photo Albums: Taking the time to look through photos with with your loved ones is a great way to help your loved one to relive memories from their youth or to recall more recent events, people and places.
Exercise is especially important for older adults as those who are active are less susceptible to physical decline which can lead to falls, other injuries and mobility issues. Exercise also improves mood which can be extremely valuable for someone with Dementia.
Dance: Scientific studies have shown that dancing regularly helps to reduce your risk of Dementia, but it’s also helpful for people who are already living with the condition. The combination of exercise and music is extremely stimulating for the brain.
Take a Stroll: Being out in nature can have a valuable calming effect on someone with Dementia and the change of environment stimulates the brain in a way that staying indoors cannot.
Chair Workouts: Did you know that you don’t need to leave your living room, or even your chair to get a challenging workout?! Especially suitable for those with limited mobility, there are a variety of ways to exercise whilst sitting. For some great chair workout ideas, see the workout section on the MindMate App.
Gardening: As with walking, gardening is a great activity because it provides a change of environment for your loved one and allows them to spend time in nature. But in addition, gardening also burns calories, providing a bonus workout for you and them. Helping out in the garden also helps your loved one to feel useful, which helps to ease any frustration they may have.
Art and Craft: Arts and Craft not provides a fun activity you can do with your loved one, but it also provides them with a creative outlet. Expressing creativity stimulates their brain and also allows them to show their emotions and relieve stress and angst.
Jigsaw Puzzles: Doing Jigsaw puzzles enables those with Dementia to use their problem-solving and spatial skills, two key areas which are often significantly affected by their condition.
Crosswords: Crosswords are a low-stress workout for memory and problem-solving skills and they’re an activity that is ideally suited to being done together by two or more people.
Brain Training Apps: Tablet computers are valuable tools and the role they can play in Dementia care is often overlooked. There are countless apps available for people with all types of illnesses, but especially valuable for Dementia patients are brain training apps which provide daily activities for regular mental stimulation. The games and activities within such apps target all the different areas of the brain and train key cognitive skills.
Quizzes: Quizzes are help and challenge the ability of your loved-one to recall information, something which can be challenging for people with Dementia. Regular training in this way can help their brain to stay sharp for longer.