People who have been diagnosed with dementia can be helped to enjoy a better quality of life if they engage in activities they enjoy and that will keep them engaged with others. Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of dementia, but other types can have similar effects on a person’s cognitive abilities and cause them to become withdrawn and less interested in daily activities. It is important that a programme of suitable activities for dementia residents is implemented in every care home.
How Activities Can Help in Dementia
Activities can help residents with dementia in various ways. For example, music and songs can often stimulate memories and provide a starting point for discussions about happy times they have enjoyed. Even when a resident has difficulty in communicating verbally, they may still gain enjoyment from familiar tunes and remember the words of songs from the past.
Many activities for dementia residents can be simple and consist of familiar tasks such as dusting, folding napkins or tidying a bookcase. Every individual is different, so it is important to find out about the resident’s background and their likes and dislikes so that they can be helped to engage in favourite activities such as gardening or cooking.
Looking at books or pictures can also help to stimulate memories and conversations that will make the residents feel more engaged and help them to interact with others. There are special books produced for people with dementia, but it is also helpful to use photograph albums, newspapers or magazines. Often watching family videos or familiar films will trigger memories too.
Arts and Crafts
People with dementia can be helped to express themselves through arts and crafts. Painting, clay modelling, knitting and many other crafts have been found to be therapeutic for people with dementia, and staff can help residents to enjoy these. They can range from very simple to quite complex depending on the individual’s abilities, and residents may enjoy having their work displayed in the home. Some people living with dementia can become upset at perceived failure, so it is important that they are not expected to complete tasks that are too difficult for them and that they are encouraged to use the materials in whichever way they want.
The same applies for activities such as quizzes or puzzles. These can be tailored to individual abilities, and simple activities such as completing a well-known proverb or giving a name beginning with a certain letter can ensure that everyone will be able to enjoy a measure of success. This can help to make people feel much more positive and can lessen irritability too.
Physical activities such as gentle exercises can not only keep people with dementia fitter and suppler, they can also help to release tension and help with relaxation. For those who are less physically able, chair-based exercises can be ideal, and adding music to the session will often make it more engaging for residents.
There are many activities for dementia residents that will help to improve their quality of life, whatever stage of the condition they have reached.