Written by Active Minds on Friday the 24th of March 2017.
We all know that taking time out for yourself is integral for your overall wellbeing, aiding you to feel relaxed and promoting calm and inner peace. This attitude should also be applied to people who are living with dementia. Encouraging your loved one to spend time relaxing allows them to feel reenergised and calm, relieving depression and anxiety. There are number of relaxing activities that people living with dementia, of all stages, can enjoy. Here are just a few:
Engaging in art as a pastime helps encourage relaxation and serenity. Ensure the ‘painting environment’ is peaceful and calm, perhaps a quiet room or a park, and then encourage your loved one to paint whatever they desire. And don’t forget, if a person living with dementia struggles with their dexterity, then Aquapaint is a fantastic product. It has been designed to help people living with dementia who may not be able to paint anymore, still achieve feelings of pride when they complete a painting.
Taking time out to enjoy a puzzle is a great way for a person with dementia to unwind and relax. Again, choose a quiet environment, with little distraction and noise, and encourage your loved one to complete a jigsaw. They can take as long as they want, perhaps enjoying a cup of tea and a chat as the puzzle is completed. Once the puzzle is finished, they will feel a sense of satisfaction and independence.
Mindfulness is used to combat stress, depression, pain management and anxiety, as well as a whole host of other related issues. However, recently there has been a number of studies that have looked at the benefits of mindfulness for people living with dementia, especially early stage dementia. Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present and not worrying about tomorrow or yesterday. This is especially pertinent for people with dementia who may be distressed or anxious about their memory loss. Mindfulness teaches them methods to avoid these feelings, using breathing techniques for relaxation and distraction.
Sensory rooms, or ‘Snoezelen’ as they are originally called, have been specifically designed as a relaxing and tranquil environment which combine lighting, scent, touch and sound to engage and stimulate a person living with dementia. A room might include projectors with moving pictures, mirror balls, bubble tubs and aromatherapy. The room is engaging and entertaining, as well as calming and soothing. In fact, sensory therapy has been shown to be effective in calming aggressive behaviour and improving mood.
Yoga is a holistic approach to relaxation. Involving stretches and poses as well as breathing techniques, yoga connects the mind and body. This in turn can have a calming effect on people living with dementia, helping to reduce anxiety and depression. Yoga is also a very gentle form of exercise, which has hugely positive effects on people living with dementia. This is both physically, encouraging prolonged independence, and mentally, promoting feelings of wellbeing and happiness.