Activities for Seniors with Dementia

Activities help improve cognitive function in seniors with Dementia.
One of the biggest challenges for caregivers who are caring for seniors with dementia is coming up with activities for the person in their care. 

It can be tempting to just leave the person with dementia alone but research has shown that providing activities can help that person keep and use what cognitive function they still have and slow down the progression of the disease. The good news is that there are tips that can help you come up with meaningful activities. Here are some activities for seniors with dementia-
Consider the interest of the person-It can be difficult to just come up with activities for the loved one in your care. However, if you start by thinking about what activities the senior in your care has enjoyed that may give you a place to start. Keep in mind that you will need to consider how severe the dementia is before you settle on an activity but knowing what they have enjoyed in the past can be a good place to start. For example-If someone loved to garden, cook, sew, or do needlework you can offer an activity that is based on not only what they loved but their current cognitive skill. While you may have to simplify what you do (for example planting seeds instead of pruning), it can still put them in touch with activities that they have enjoyed in the past.

Set up routines-One of the most devastating effects of dementia is the fact that many people who get it begin to feel like they have lost their purpose. You can help the elderly loved one in your care by making them feel more useful and needed. You can do this by setting up activities that you and your loved one can do together. Keep in mind that these tasks do not have to elaborate or outside of the norm. Simply by taking out the garbage, washing dishes, or folding the laundry you can help the senior in your care feel that they have purpose. Keep in mind that with any type of task that you offer you will need to make sure that it matches the senior’s present cognitive abilities.

Offer social interaction-Keep in mind that even if your elderly loved one’s abilities have diminished they still need to interact with other people. Every person no matter the level of their cognitive function needs to have social access with others. You can provide this for the senior in your care by many different ways. You can simply have them accompany you when you run errands, invite one or two trusted people over to visit, or even arrange some time at a senior center if appropriate. Try to schedule social interaction in a calm and stressful manner since crowds and noise can often overwhelm someone with dementia.

Provide ways to exercise physically-Even seniors with more advanced dementia can benefit from regular exercise. Try to have the elderly loved one in your care take daily walks which can help to reduce anxiety and agitation. If they are able to use a stationary bike it can also help relieve agitation and boredom. It is important to consider the health status, level of dementia, and overall needs of the senior before choosing a physical activity. However, once you do choose something to participate in make sure that they are able to on a regular basis.
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Lisa said...

These are great pointers. We should do all we can to prevent the progress of degenerative diseases, especially in a nursing home.

Colorado Medicare said...

Great tips there. :) My friend whose father suffers from a moderate dementia enjoys his daily activity called "feeling useful". It's basically an activity where you leave unfolded towels on the table and the patient folds them. It gives them a feeling that they are helping and is still useful. His father seems to enjoy that daily activity a lot.

CareGiver Partnership said...

Colorado Medicare.... thank you for your comments. Each of us needs to have a purpose and feel useful.

Dementia Care Ottawa said...

Excellent advice. Staying active and engaged is so important. Offering alternative activities for their interests and hobbies can make such a difference.

B.R.M said...

Feeling useful is important to my mother. Laundry and dusting are her two things she truly enjoys.

Yesterday was free museum day in Memphis so I took her to Sun Studio, she jigs around to Elvis. And she had a good time! I have made it a goal for us to get out more. For both our sakes. I'm looking for other stuff we can do at home that will help her.

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