Written by Active Minds on Friday the 23rd of November 2018.
Dementia can be an incredibly isolating disease, especially for people who are living in a care home environment away from family, loved ones and friends. Therefore, it is important to encourage people with dementia to engage in group activities whenever possible, as this will encourage socialisation and conversation, which can help to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
Here are some great group activities to get you started:
As people get older, reading books can become harder. However, an interest in reading stories may remain. Start a book club, but rather than asking each person to go away and read the book to themselves, gather the group together and either read the book to them or play an audio version of the story. Then pose questions to the group to encourage them to start discussing the book. Choosing a book that focuses on an era from their past might also help trigger memories and elicit reminiscence conversations too.
Collect a variety of items that may help trigger memories. This can range from old advertising posters to baking utensils used in childhood. Place these items in a bag and pass the bag around the group. Each person removes an item, describes it and can then discuss a memory that it may have triggered. This may lead to further discussions by other members of the group who also have a memory to share.
Music is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to engaging someone with dementia. Group sing-a-longs are not only hugely fun to partake in, but they encourage people to socialise. Create a playlist of songs that will resonate with your group, probably songs from their childhood/teens would work best. You may also want to provide lyric sheets to help everyone sing along if they don’t know the words. For a little bit of light exercise, encourage people to get off their chairs and sway and dance along to the music too.
Would You Rather
A light-hearted group game that can be enjoyed with a cup of tea and a biscuit. Pose ‘would you rather’ style questions to the group and allow them to discuss the answers between them. E.g. Would you rather live on a beach or in a jungle? Would you rather work in an office or work on a farm?
My Favourite Thing To Do…
This activity can be enjoyed again and again, you just need to think of a different ‘favourite thing to do’ questions. On a large piece of paper or a white board, write a question such as ‘My favourite thing to do on holiday is…’ or My favourite thing to eat for breakfast is…’ then ask the group to give their answers, writing them down as they are called out.
Still Life Painting
In a quiet room, set up a still life display. This can be anything, a bowl of fruit, a vase of flowers, or perhaps an image that may trigger a memory, such as a bucket and spade reminiscent of childhood holidays spent on the beach. The group is not limited by these displays though, if they want to they can simply paint whatever comes to mind that day. For later stage dementia patients, dementia friendly art activities, such as Aquapaint, allow them to still enjoy the calm and relaxing benefits of art but without the frustration of not being able to take part in the activity properly.
If you have any other care home group activities that you have tried and tested, please share them with us (perhaps with a pic) on our twitter or facebook!