Written by Active Minds on Friday the 29th of December 2017.
As a member of staff at a care home, or indeed a loved one or close friend of a resident at a care home, it can often be hard to think of suitable activities to help engage an elderly person. Ideally, activities should be interesting and varied, but not so difficult that they either discourage residents, or leave them feeling down when they are unable to complete them.
Here are a few of suggestions for suitable activities, for either groups or individuals:
Jigsaw puzzles are great as they can be enjoyed by either individuals or as a group (though no more than 4 people, otherwise it can become too crowded). Dementia-friendly jigsaws, like our collection of 13, 24, 35 or 63 piece puzzles, have been specifically designed to be played by people living with dementia, and the elderly. The pieces are easy to handle and place on the printed backing board, and the beautiful collection of images evoke memories and spark conversation.
As people get older, their eyesight may start to degenerate, which can mean that reading books or newspapers can become harder. However, an interest in current affairs or stories may remain and it is important to help an elderly person or someone living with dementia feel connected to the world, engaged and less isolated. Creating a reading activity, where an individual or a group can sit in a quiet, relaxing space and listen to stories, poems or even news articles, is a great way to help connect and spark conversation.
Art is a therapeutic and relaxing activity that can be enjoyed anywhere and at any time, whether that as a group activity within a care home with a still-life or perhaps individually in a quiet garden setting taking in the beautiful landscape. Whilst traditional art products might be slightly difficult to manipulate for the elderly or people living with dementia, products like Aquapaint have been designed for people of all ages, regardless of their dexterity or stage of dementia. Water is simply brushed onto the paper and a beautiful image will appear. Once the paper dries the image will fade, ready to be used time and again.
Group sing-a-longs are a fantastic way to help elderly people in a care home socialise, as well as lift their spirits – who doesn’t love to sing along to their favourite tunes. Picking songs that will resonate most with the residents will help engage them in the activity, so you want to make a playlist with songs from their teens and 20s. Song sheets are also a great addition to the sing-a-long as they will help the residents with the singing if they do not know the words.
Whilst it may seem unimaginative to give residents general tasks as an activity, it can actually help them feel empowered, useful and proud, as well as giving them a sense of purpose which will help improve their mood. Tasks can really be anything, from folding laundry to doing the washing up, anything that is repetitive works well. The familiarity of tasks they may have undertaken throughout their whole life will also help spark memories from their past.