If you have a parent or relative with dementia, it’s important to find activities that allow them to feel engaged and involved. There is a level of usefulness and importance that people with dementia gain from feeling part of a family and community. Not only can sharing in these activities help your loved one with depression and motor skills, it can also help reduce your frustration. Here are a few activities you and your loved one can participate in together. Keep in mind that looking for small successes is more important than the end result.
Maybe your loved one used to play golf or swim regularly. Even if you didn’t do these things with them before, sharing in their favorite athletic activity is a way to be in the moment with them now while engaging both their brain and body.
2) Read Together
In the early stages of dementia, your loved one most likely can read without issue. Share your favorite poems or stories with them and then encourage them to read a paragraph or two. If needed, use large-print books to make the activity easier for them.
3) Paint or Draw
When speech begins to taper off, painting, drawing, and coloring are all ways your senior can get in touch with their feelings and memories. Creating art engages a different part of the brain, and your loved one can find enjoyment creating things they hadn’t in the past.
4) Simple Household Tasks
From wiping off the counters and clearing or setting the dinner table to folding laundry and taking out the trash, helping with typical home tasks can give your loved one a feeling of belonging and accomplishment.
5) Bake Together
Baking is a form of creativity that offers independence through the step-by-step process. Give your dementia patient a task like pouring, stirring, or gathering ingredients as you both work together to complete a simple recipe like muffins or brownies.
6) Play Music
Playing music is a great way to help them connect with their past. Because of the positive effect it can have, it is referred to as “an awakening.” Even after listening to the music, the patient may continue to engage with you as a result. This is a good time to ask them yes-or-no questions about what they are hearing.
7) Share Photographs
Like music, pictures can help trigger your loved one’s memories. Pull out the family albums and dedicate some time to paging through their past together.
8) Watch Videos of Family
Similar to photos, videos can help your parent or relative make connections to their past. Try putting on a family wedding or anniversary video to stimulate those tucked-away memories.
If your loved one enjoyed making homemade cards or scrapbooking, pull out some of those old materials and engage them in their hobby once again. Remember to make tasks simpler and focus on the larger motor skills.
10) Puzzles & Games
Take activities or items your loved one enjoys and make a game or puzzle out of it. For example, create a large puzzle out of a favorite painting/photograph. For someone who enjoyed birdwatching, create a mix-and-match card game with pictures and names.
While sharing in these important activities with your parent or relative with dementia, keep an eye out for indicators that show sparks of interest. He or she may prompt you for more of the activity they like most in small ways. This is part of the process, and it will help you understand the best activities to move forward with.
For more information about Dementia, visit the Artis Senior Living blog.