Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Older adults who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can desire connection and fulfillment, as we all do. Discover interactive and stimulating activities for seniors with dementia, such as these, which challenge their creativity in fun and productive ways.
Creative activities for older adults with dementia
Customizing activities according to a person’s interests and talents is important and beneficial. Get to know your loved one’s hobbies and interests and use this information to personalize activities.
Try to remember or ask other friends and relatives about your loved one’s gifts, talents, passions, and strengths. Encourage your loved one to do similar things.
Try crochet or knitting
Put a ball of yarn or home made quilt in the hands of your aged loved one. Allow them to feel the texture and weight of the yarn and the quilt. Although they may suffer from memory loss or have trouble concentrating, they might be able to knit or crochet, even if only a little bit.
Experiment with music or sounds
If your loved one who suffers from dementia was a musician or loved to listen to music, try reacquainting them with a simple instrument or playing music that they can sing along to. For some older adults with mild cognitive decline, their musical ability may be stronger than other memory functions. Those with more pronounced cognitive decline might benefit from less challenging instruments like maracas, tambourines or even singing nursery rhymes.
Help them express themselves visually
Encourage drawing and painting to express feelings creatively. Use bold, bright colors on large surfaces. Try unique canvases like butcher paper which might alleviate some of the stress related to structure and certain limitations.
Use arts and crafts that deal with visual sensory and touch
Seniors with dementia benefit greatly when working with play-dough or slippery clay because of the visual and tactile stimulation and creativity involved. Provide a variety of objects of distinct textures, sizes, and shapes.
Use collages to recreate happy memories
Be creative and cut out images from magazines or print out articles and advertisements from the past. Pick topics that interest your elderly loved one, such as cars, fashion, or cooking. Scan and print old family photos to create a scrapbook. Involve your loved one with dementia by having them rearrange the pages or pictures.
Nostalgic activities for dementia patients at home
Sensory or visual reminders from the past help older adults recall and reconnect with pleasant memories from the past using reminiscence therapy. Try avoiding stressful or confusing questions about pictures. Instead, be gentle while guiding them through memories. If you are looking at childhood photos, for example, it would be better to ask about memories growing up than where that photo was taken.
Spend time looking through photo albums. Childhood pictures of your loved one, or early adulthood, can bring back pleasant memories. Create books using scanned photos or taking digital pictures of old photos.
Watch old TV shows and movies
Do you know if your aging parents grew up watching westerns like “Bonanza” or “Gunsmoke”? Or did they like watching musicals like “South Pacific” or “The Sound of Music.”? These movies can be found online or at your local public library. Be sure to enjoy movie snacks like popcorn and turn it into a fun family night.
Play some music and sing along
“Music can awaken the brain, and with it, the rich trove of memories that are associated with familiar songs,” according to the nonprofit group Music and Memory. Find classics online to stream or sing memorable songs like early hymns. There is a good chance that your elderly loved one has fond memories from childhood about sing-alongs and music classes.
Rediscover the past through magazines and catalogs
Back in the days before big-box stores and malls, shopping was frequently done through catalogs. People used to catch up on the latest trends and news with magazines. You might be able to find copies or reprints of classic magazines like Cosmopolitan, Life, or the Sears Roebuck catalog. For those seniors who spent a lot of time in the kitchen or working in the fields, try finding an Old Farmer’s Almanac or Good Cooking.
At home activities for people with dementia
Older adults with dementia enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, just like everyone else. Activities that promote feelings of self-worth, and are failure free, should be encouraged. Decide on activities that help them feel productive while considering the dementia patients’ declining ability.
Most seniors, especially women, are familiar with doing laundry. Repeated motion and touching soft fabrics can be soothing. Detergent smells from classic brands can spark nice, comforting memories. Start with smaller or easier items like T-shirts and hand towels. Try to avoid challenging items like buttoned shirts or fitted sheets which can be frustrating.
Create handy projects
If your loved one liked to build or repair, suggest a project with obtainable results. Fitting together PVC pipes or painting wooden boards are some recommended activities for seniors with better motor skills. For seniors with advanced dementia, a similar feeling can be achieved with plastic or wooden play tools.
Tie loose knots on a piece of thick rope. Untying knots might be enjoyable to an elderly person with dementia, just be sure not to tie them too tightly.
Assemble a puzzle
Start with easy puzzles with fewer, larger pieces. Puzzles which are fail proof like shapes or color matching are ideal.
Sensory activities for your loved one with dementia
Smell the morning coffee, roses, or warm bread.
Harvard scientists suggest that smells trigger more vivid emotional memories than images. This is because scents are processed by the same parts of our brains that also control memories, the hippocampus and the amygdala. A familiar scent like fresh baked cookies or flowers from a garden can promote good memories and joyful emotions. Beware of smells that cause anxiety. Gunpowder and diesel fuel can trigger post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in older war veterans.
Handle familiar objects
Touching and handling of certain items can bring up memories that might not be possible through pictures or conversation alone. The feeling of car keys might remind your loved one of their first car or perhaps an old wedding dress might trigger memories of their wedding day.
Reintroduce classic flavors
Similar to scents, memories and emotions can be triggered by taste as well. Your mother’s popular cake recipe can remind her of past birthdays, or a particular brand of coffee can bring back memories of relaxing mornings at home.
Handle various textures
Distinctive textures contribute to memory cues that may provide sensory stimulation. For pet lovers, the soft fur of an animal might be comforting. For those whose hobby was gardening, suggest touching leaves or soil. Try making a bag of fabrics or blocks that can be sorted by touch.
Activities for seniors with dementia using technology
There are safety and health benefits for seniors who use technology. Engaging technology can offer stimulating activities for seniors with dementia in the home.
Learn about the world through live cameras
Animal lovers can visit zoos, aquariums, and nature preserves around the world through internet live streams from home. Art lovers can visit museums from their own homes. Some art museums offer live tours of their galleries, like the Louvre in Paris. Live camera footage, since it is always changing, can captivate the mind of house bound adults with dementia.
Use Google Earth to travel the world
Google Earth uses satellite images from across the globe. You can enter the location of a childhood memory or place of interest and let your loved one explore.
Consider creating a family video to be viewed on a tablet at the loved one’s home
Video calls and chats are a great way to stay connected. If family and friends are not available to talk, a prerecorded video can be comforting. Upload videos of family and friends, pets, and other memories to a tablet that can be viewed whenever your loved one feels lonely or restless.