Written by Active Minds on Wednesday the 9th of May 2018.
Being diagnosed with dementia can cause people to withdraw. They may no longer want to spend time in the company of friends and family, and may eschew taking part in activities in favour of being alone. However, this can become incredibly isolating for them, leading to depression and anxiety. That’s why it is important to encourage activities for anyone living with dementia. This will not only help lift their mood and make them feel more engaged in the world around them, but it may also help stir memories and foster conversation.
In this blog, we take a look at some fun and stimulating activities to do with people living with dementia:
Organising a group singing session is a wonderful way to help people with dementia socialise and lift their mood. Whether people want to join in, or simply let the music wash over them, singing is an enjoyable activity for all stages of dementia. Picking popular songs from the past may also evoke memories and stimulate conversation.
The joy of games is that they can be played by people of all ages and all stages of dementia, and so make a great activity to enjoy with the entire family. Depending on the stage of dementia of your loved one, you may have to adjust the games slightly to ensure that they can partake in the activity and will not become frustrated at not being able to complete the game. So, if jigsaws are a family favourite, you may want to look at dementia friendly jigsaw puzzles, whose pieces have been specifically designed to be used by people with dementia. Or snakes and ladders might be a popular choice, but again, look at versions that have been adapted to meet the needs of people living with dementia with enlarged pieces and dice cards, rather than dice, for people who struggle to roll and read.
There is nothing quite like the smell of a cake baking in the oven, it helps stimulate the senses, bringing memories of other baking experiences flooding back. It’s for this reason that baking is an excellent activity for someone with dementia. If they can help with the process of baking, then touching the various ingredients will help stimulate their touch sense. But if not, simply watching someone cook and enjoying the sounds and scents of the kitchen is just as enjoyable.
Whilst we all strive to ensure that activities are as engaging and stimulating as possible for our loved one, this does not mean that you should overlook more simple activities. Household chores, such as folding the laundry or cleaning dishes, can offer just as much stimulation as more complex ones, and allows a person with dementia to feel that they are helping. They will also experience a sense of accomplishment and pride on completion of the task.
Still Life Painting
A fantastic activity for people in the earlier stages of dementia. Set up a still life in the room and encourage them to paint their version of it. The display can be anything, a vase of flowers, a bowl of fruit, or even something that may trigger memories, perhaps a bucket and spade, to help encourage conversation about holidays from their childhood. 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.