activities for people with dementia

Whether you are a caregiver or regularly visit a loved one with dementia, it is important to plan activities that you both enjoy. In the early stages, your loved one should continue to do activities which keep him/her fit and alert. Here are five types of activities for people with dementia that can help your loved one remain active and calm as his/her condition progresses.

Favourite Household Chores

Many caregivers make the mistake of taking over all the household duties because it is more efficient. However, your loved one needs to feel occupied and useful. If your loved one has always enjoyed gardening, cooking or organising cupboards, you should continue to do these tasks with them. These are some of the simplest, but most rewarding activities for people with dementia. Remember that it is the process itself, rather than the outcome which is important.

The Great Outdoors

There is considerable evidence that regular exercise helps dementia sufferers cognitively as well as physically. Outdoor exercise is particularly beneficial as having room to move, fresh air and Vitamin D provide significant benefits. Once again, choose activities that s/he enjoyed in the past. Go to the beach and throw a ball. Walk in the park and feed the ducks. Splash around at the local swimming pool. For a more social experience, join a nature-based activity group in your area and choose options which are suitable.

Musical Magic

There is considerable evidence that music stirs up emotions, thus stimulating the brain and triggering memories. Some radio stations are testing this theory and catering for this need. Choose songs to sing and listen to that seem to evoke happiness or a sense of peace. If your loved one previously played a musical instrument, entice them to keep doing so by choosing easier pieces. A karaoke machine is another way for you and your loved one to engage in music. Many entertainment venues, such as RSL clubs, have free musical performances at lunch time. Encourage your loved one to dance, move around and generally respond to the music.

Animal Capers

It has long been recognised that seniors gain benefits from pet ownership through feeling needed and a sense of unconditional love. In dementia sufferers, the advantages of animal therapy are now being acknowledged. Some residential facilities even allow large animals such as horses. Make regular visits to a petting zoo or farm if it isn’t practicable to keep a pet. Rather than a cat or dog, you might choose to keep chickens. Your loved one can help with their care and collect eggs. You may also find that an Alzheimer’s Aid Dog is suitable for your situation.

Art Therapy

Engaging the creative brain allows dementia sufferers to focus and feel that they are contributing something of beauty to the world. If your loved one was previously interested in activities such as china painting or pottery, visit your local arts and craft shop to find ways to modify these pursuits. There are numerous art options even if your loved one has never followed artistic pursuits. Mindful colouring books, watercolour painting and air-dry clay projects are a good place to start. Art galleries across Australia now have an art therapy program to help your loved one gain inspiration.

Special Times

Activities for people with dementia should be enjoyable for both the sufferer and caregiver. In order to enjoy these special times with your loved one, choose pleasurable experiences which strengthen your relationship. Just have fun and revel in each precious moment.

Image credit: "Coloring" (cropped) by Ann. (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

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