Activity Ideas for People Living With Dementia


Dementia is a combination of symptoms a person can experience because of the damaged nerve cells in the brain. Without nerve cells functioning normally, the information is not transmitted, and without it, the brain cannot carry out certain tasks. The most common conditions are Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, among other 200 conditions.

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Regardless of which type of dementia a person has, the symptoms vary but most commonly include memory problems, behaviour changes, difficulties with concentration and speaking.

Older adults with dementia find it difficult and frustrating to deal with daily tasks even if those activities are simple.

Importance of Failure-Free Activities for People With Dementia

People with dementia deserve to have a good quality of life and enjoy different things. Unfortunately, it is hard for them to achieve joy by themselves. Live-in care assistance or a family member can help by implementing various activities to boost memory, behaviour, and overall health.

Assigning easy activities around the house can help patients become more independent and help them practice skills. Failure-free games can improve patients self-esteem and help them create through art and music.

When playing and completing any exercise, patients with dementia have an opportunity to communicate with a carer or a family member and share these pleasant moments together.

People with dementia should have a stable plan of activities that are safe, fun, and easy. Challenging games can lead to frustration and mood swings. You should come up with enjoyable activities for both of you and the tasks that seniors with dementia can try to do by themselves without assistance.

In order to plan engaging and stimulating tasks, it is crucial to know the past of a person with dementia: profession, interests, hobbies, family, etc.

When giving tasks to people with dementia, the vital thing to remember is always to assist, encourage them, and remind them what the next step is. Make sure to come up with several games or activities that will bring pleasure and possibly retrain some of the previously known skills.

Dementia Activities Ideas With a Live-in Care Assistant

The activities for people with dementia can be in-house or outside, with other people or individually. You can continue doing the same routine but letting your loved one do some part of the task without assistance for as long as possible.

Before you start assigning activities, make sure your environment is safe and that the objects you give are harmless. If you decide to go outside, the place shouldn't be crowded and noisy because it may cause stress and anxiety. Always be patient and do not rush things; it is best to take one step at a time; being over motivating and over encouraging can also lead to tension.

Activities for Dementia at Home

When inviting a person with dementia to do some activities around the house, it is helpful to ask a loved one instead of simply giving the task. This is a great way to make your loved one feel useful and valued. If the dementia patient becomes too engaged with the same activity over and over again, it shouldn't be a problem as long as it is harmless.

Household Chores

If the patient doesn't have anything against the housework, you could ask them to do something around the house. It could be making the bed, vacuuming, dusting, or folding laundry. Don't aim for a perfect result; the most important is performance and practice. For instance, you can give a patient some hand towels to fold as they are short and easy to hold.

Music

Listening to music or singing songs are enjoyable activities you can do together. Depending on the stage of dementia, patients can remember how to play musical instruments. Sometimes people with dementia find it hard to express their emotions and feelings, and music helps them. Favourite songs can calm patients down, especially when they do things they don't really enjoy.

Dancing

Dancing is a perfect physical exercise that brings lots of fun and joy. It doesn't have to be fast or standing; your loved one can sit on the chair and do some movements with hands and legs.

Reading

Maintaining focus on one subject can be challenging; that is why a live-in carer can read about an interesting topic and discuss it with a patient. A family member could also help a loved one read a magazine or a book by simply pointing at the line and reading together.

Another great idea is to play audiobooks, and there are many of them available from the internet or libraries.

Watching Documentaries or TV Programmes

You can find many interesting programmes and documentaries on TV that a person with dementia might have watched before or might have had an interest in learning. Like with reading, it is useful to discuss the topic before and after watching TV.

Games

Games like bingo, puzzles, dominoes and card games are easy to play and very enjoyable for people with dementia. You can buy the ones with big pieces if seniors cannot see well enough.

You can create a picture puzzle with a family photo on them, or anything else, for example, a house, food, or animals.

Memory Box

Another great activity that stimulates memory and reminds a person with dementia about the family and past life is to create a memory box. This box can contain pictures, old toys, family photos, and other items that bring back memories. Reminiscing with the help of a memory box can be quite calming and relaxing.

Similarly to a box, you can make a book filled with photos of family members and friends, places or colours, various movies or flowers, and even scaps from clothes.

Outdoor Activities for Seniors With Dementia

Doing Sports

It is always nice to encourage a loved one with dementia to go for a walk, even a short one, go to dancing classes, or go swimming with an instructor.

Other places where a person with dementia can enjoy are a museum and gallery. There you would walk and have a break to rest and sit down.

Eating Out

If your loved one likes having a meal or a coffee outside, it could be an excellent idea to find a quiet place and have a snack there from time to time.

Gardening

Playing in the garden and spending time in nature will bring lots of joy to seniors with dementia. You can support your loved one when planting colourful flowers and herbs, weeding, or watering, along with other fun activities that involve exercise in the fresh air. Indoor gardening is possible, too, with growing lights.

Make sure to remove any dangerous tools that might harm a person with dementia.

Sensory Activities for Seniors With Dementia

Painting

Painting is a creative exercise for people with dementia, even if they have never painted anything before. You can add some journals to cut out or various cloth materials to add to the painting in order to make something creative.

Writing

Depending on the stage of dementia, patients may enjoy writing, and you can encourage them to write their recollections from school years, family, or interests. You can also encourage them to write postcards or letters to family members.

Massage

Giving a hand massage is another pleasant sensory activity that is easy to do at home. During a massage, you can have a chat with your loved one and relieve the wrist pain.

Focus on the Smell

It is useful to focus on smelling roses, fresh bread, coffee, and anything else with a nice scent because smell and memory are closely connected. Familiar scents can bring back memories from the past; however, avoid odours that can be associated with bad events.

Who Can Help With Activities

It is always best to engage family members to come over and play various games with seniors, discuss their interests, and talk about the news. It is important to support seniors, keep in touch with them, and do activities together.

When the health condition deteriorates, and you or your relatives are unable to support your loved one all the time, you can hire a professional live-in carer from Hometouch. Living in a familiar home environment will not cause stress but engage in activities and social life. Contact us today to find a perfect match for your loved one.

Conclusion

Activities are essential for people with dementia, and the ones listed in the article are perfect for having some exercise, stimulating memory, and simply bringing joy. Activities also diverse your loved one's life and don't let them get bored being at home. Another benefit is that certain activities retrain the skills and sometimes teach new ones.

Make sure to choose the activities that are suitable for your loved one, and if you want to add some physical exercise, it is better to consult with a doctor beforehand.

Passing the busy time with fun tasks will make the carer's work easier and the patient's daily routine more enjoyable.

Dr Jamie Wilson
Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Hometouch
Dr Jamie Wilson is hometouch’s founder and Chief Medical Officer. Jamie’s creation of hometouch was inspired by his work as a dementia psychiatrist in the NHS, and he has written about healthcare issues in The Times and the Evening Standard. Jamie has a MBBS from the University of Leeds and has spent a decade in the NHS, working as a Psychiatric Registrar and Memory Specialist at Imperial College Hospital.