Activities to help dementia

Meaningful pastimes and activities to do with loved ones suffering from dementia

The effects of dementia can be devastating for the person diagnosed and their family and friends. The varying symptoms and the myriad of ways people are affected by dementia often means that loved ones aren’t sure how best to care for the individual or what support would be most helpful. There are, however, numerous support networks and medical professionals who can provide advice regarding appropriate pastimes and activities for people suffering with dementia.

Activities will generally provide a benefit in one of three areas; physical, sensory or psychological. In order to truly benefit the patient, activities should be varied and aim to provide all three types of stimulation. Although activities can be placed into these categories, it should be remembered that treatment and activities should be ‘person-centric’ and based on the individual’s needs and abilities. For example, some elderly people have mobility issues so their physical ability may be limited. Exercise should, therefore, be based on their abilities and not be too much for them. Similarly, many people with dementia will have different recall abilities so different activities may be appropriate.

Dementia can often limit a person’s independence and may interrupt their daily routine. When everyday tasks, such as shopping or cooking, become too much they can develop a sense of boredom or isolation. This, in turn, can lead to stress, anxiety of even depression. To avoid this, it’s important to increase the level of interaction they experience. This can be done in a variety of ways and may simply include seeing or speaking with them more regularly or involving them in family events. Many families find that talking about their memories and the past can help to improve their loved one’s level of recall as well as providing a sense of comfort and inclusion.

Making a memory box or putting together pictures for a photo wall are good activities to stimulating someone’s memory and people often report an increased recall rate during and following such activities. Similarly, putting together a family tree or asking for help writing the family history can help prompt loved ones to recall people and facts they may have otherwise forgotten.

If a person with dementia is experiencing feelings of isolation or depression it can be difficult to engage them in activities or motivate them. Many family members and carers find that the client or loved one is more willing to engage if they are helping someone or caring for another person. Many people with dementia display more abilities when helping to care for an animal or even helping to undertake administrative tasks. In addition to being a stimulating activity this can increase their self-esteem and give them a daily purpose which they may have been lacking.

Although the effects of dementia can be difficult to control, by providing ‘person-centric’ care and treatment, symptoms can be managed and, in some instances, even improved. By increasing interaction and partaking in activities with loved ones, people suffering with dementia generally feel less anxious as their sense of comfort and inclusion increases. This can help to lessen the effects of dementia symptoms as well as improving their physical and sensory abilities and increasing their overall quality of life.

Find out more and get advice on dementia support for you and your family. Care homes around the UK can provide assistance for those with dementia and give you the peace of mind that your relatives are in safe hands. 

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