If you have a loved one with dementia, you would know how bumpy their journey can be. There are ups and downs, good days and bad days, and a variety of emotions that come with a dementia diagnosis.
Dementia is a group of conditions that affect the brain, resulting in the decline of different cognitive abilities such as memory, social skills, and critical thinking. Although it affects everyone differently, it can – and often does – affect the ability of a person to live independently.
Dementia patients need a tremendous amount of support so they can perform daily activities properly and safely, and this task often falls on a family member or a carer.
While dementia is a serious diagnosis, the good news is that there are many different support options and things that you can do to help the individual. Here are six great activities for those with this condition.
1. Simple chores
While it is usually difficult or unsafe for a person with dementia to prepare a full meal or mow an entire garden, doing a small portion of household chores can be satisfying for your loved one.
Performing familiar activities such as folding laundry, washing the dishes, watering plants, or making simple snacks can help the person’s mind stay active. It also helps them feel useful and gives them a sense of independence without being too mentally or physically straining.
2. Sensory box
A sensory box is a great tool for mental stimulation and focus. It engages multiple senses, which can help stabilise someone who may be confused or disoriented due to dementia.
To create a sensory box, fill a large box with items of different shapes, colours, and textures. Items can include fabrics, stress balls, colouring pages, pebbles, even Play-doh.
Once it is ready, allow your loved one to explore at their own pace. Don’t forget to include items that stimulate the senses of smell and hearing, too.
3. Puzzles and games
Even though your loved one may no longer be able to play some of their favourite games such as cards or chess, there are easier activities they could try.
Jigsaw puzzles, word searches, or fill-in-the-blanks are great to keep their mind stimulated. For a more physical activity, try a ring toss.
You could also do a search for dementia games, which are specifically designed for people with this condition.
4. Social interaction
Many people with dementia can feel detached or lonely, and this can have a negative impact on their mood and ability to function. As such, it is important to bring them out to socialise every so often.
Do some research on local events and get-togethers for older people or folks with memory loss and see what is available. If your loved one lives in a retirement community, find out what weekly events they can attend with other residents.
Many older people did not grow up with technology, but this doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of it now. There are plenty of games, apps, and resources online geared towards individuals with memory loss, including those with dementia.
Find old movies and videos, pictures, and songs that may be nostalgic for them, or even download an audiobook or podcast if they are having trouble reading print.
Another great use of technology is to set up a video-messaging service such as Skype or Zoom so your loved one can chat with family and friends from the comfort of their own home.
While exercise is a healthy activity at any age, it is especially vital for anyone with dementia. Gentle exercise such as walking, some gentle stretching, doing tai chi or yoga, or even just tossing a ball back and forth can be a beneficial form of physical activity.
Getting some fresh air and exercise can be amazing for the brain and body, but always be mindful of any other conditions your loved one may have. If you aren’t sure which type of exercise is safest for them, consult a professional.