August 13, 2018

Activities for People with Dementia

A dementia diagnosis can slowly, and sometimes quickly, alter your loved one’s ability to do things they once loved. You may even find it hard to interact with them because you feel like you don’t know them anymore. But your time together can still be valuable and enriching. Here are a few activities you can enjoy with your loved one.

If the effects of dementia are overwhelming for you or another caregiver, contact us. We have the resources and tools you need to continue to provide the best care possible for you loved one: wpmemorycare.org

It is universally recognized that seniors with dementia lose their short-term memory first and their long-term memory last. For example, they often remember people and events from their earlier years but have difficulty remembering what they ate for breakfast the day before.

A while back, a family member asked me, “What do you do with someone who can no longer carry on a normal conversation?” The short answer is, “Relax and have fun.” The long answer requires writing a whole book. Here is a short summary of activities you can do with people affected by dementia:

  1. Reminisce! Everything you do together lends itself to reminiscing. If he or she can still speak fairly well, say, “Tell me about . . .” If his or her vocabulary is more limited, you may have to facilitate the story using phrases like, “Do you remember when. . .” As you bake cookies together, talk about their favorite cookies, meals, etc.
  2. Read aloud and use visual aids, such as memory poems, family pictures, or stories about “the days gone by,” to stimulate reminiscences. Ideas include the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, “Yesterdays” by NaDezan, and other short stories.
  3. Make music. Sing, hum, whistle, and dance. Singing brings oxygen to the brain and helps you think more clearly. Dancing exercises other parts of the body. Both activities increase your sense of well-being, as well as the well-being of your loved one! Have music activities and entertainers visit in addition to playing your loved one’s favorite cassettes.
  1. Sensory stimulation activities could include the following:
  • Making lap quilts
  • Painting
  • Scrapbooks
  • Walking
  • Flower arranging
  • Tutoring, or visiting with children
  • Baking
  • Happy hour with non-alcoholic drinks
  • Ice cream party
  • Brushing & fixing a resident’s hair
  • Manicures
  • Ladies luncheons
  • Building with wood (include sanding)

Keeping the mind and body active is important for everyone, but especially your loved one with dementia. Do something that is enjoyable for both of you, and it makes it that much easier.

Written by Jennifer Buckley for caregiver.com