Meaningful activities are crucial for seniors experiencing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Maintaining relationships with loved ones through enjoyable activities can help reduce memory loss and improve quality of life. Certain activities for those with memory issues can help them express themselves more and continue emotional connections with loved ones. They can also curb anxiety and irritability and bring back fond memories. Remember to pay attention to your loved one’s skills and abilities, their likes and dislikes, and any physical limitations before deciding which activities to pursue.
Bake or Cook Simple Recipes Together
Cooking or baking can activate the senses of smell, sight, and taste. It can also bring back memories of sharing meals with your loved ones. The smell of a cake baking in the oven can trigger happy memories of cooking with family and a warm sense of home. While cooking, seniors can enjoy working with their loved ones or peers. It’s pretty easy to create a bond over the love of cooking and eating food. We all love food!
Arts & Crafts
Arts and crafts can provide stimulation and foster creativity for those with memory loss. These types of projects also allow seniors to socialize and feel connected in a group activity. Simple and safe projects include things like leather and woodworking, beading, painting and drawing. Materials that will be safe for your loved one include nontoxic glues, paints, and safety scissors. Keep in mind when working with your loved one that focusing on the action or movement of making the craft is more important than finishing the project. And he or she will likely need cues or instructions to move to the next steps of the activity.
Look at Books
Seniors with dementia might still enjoy reading, but often regular books can frustrate them. Some books have been made specifically for those experiencing memory loss. A series of four such books includes “Fruits,” “Fun Foods,” “Hand Tools,” and “Life in the U.S. Military.” Each book focuses on one topic and includes large illustrations with just a couple of words to go along with the photos. This type of series appeals to those with dementia without being childish.
Make a Memory Box
A box full of things related to a loved one’s former work or hobbies can help reconnect them to their past. Start with any sort of box and fill it with items they might have used at work, copies of photos, or things related to hobbies they once enjoyed. For example, a former office worker might fill a box with pens, paper, folders, or notepads that feature the company logo. Someone who enjoyed sports might have a box with old photos, bobbleheads of favorite players, or baseball cards. To stimulate your loved one’s desire to open the box, you might decorate the outside of it as well.
Play Music or Sing Songs
In many cases, this just might be the best option. Research has shown that familiar music can engage those with dementia when almost nothing else can. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that even in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, a person can tap along or sing lyrics to a song from childhood. Find music that’s familiar to your loved one with dementia, and music that is not interrupted by commercials, which can cause confusion. Encourage movement such as clapping or dancing to make it really fun.
For more tips on activities for your loved one with memory loss, visit the Artis Senior Living blog.