Continuing to be active and involved in meaningful interests is crucial for our mental health. All of us need to feel both successful and needed. This feeling doesn’t disappear because of a diagnosis of dementia, although it may warrant some creative intent to achieve. As a matter of fact, engaging and rewarding activities can lessen challenging symptoms of dementia such as anger, anxiety, depression, agitation as well as sundowning.
The secret is finding activities for seniors with dementia that are suitable for the person’s level of cognitive functioning. It is a matter of finding out what invokes engagement without creating unnecessary aggravation – something that may require a bit of experimentation.
Start with these tips to discover what works best for a senior you love with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- Get outside. Whenever the weather permits, just getting outdoors can offer immediate happiness and gratification. Pick a bouquet of flowers and then go for a walk to bring them to a friend. Read a book aloud or reminisce through a photo album together on the front porch. Set up a table with potting soil, containers, seedlings and succulents, and make a small container garden.
- Fold laundry. There’s nothing like the fragrance of clean laundry that’s been hanging outside to dry! Provide the senior with freshly laundered wash cloths, pillowcases, towels, etc. and request their help in folding.
- Create a memory box. A simple memory box can be crafted specific to the senior’s interests. For example, a retired carpenter’s box might contain nuts, bolts, pieces of PVC pipe, blocks of wood, sandpaper, etc. An individual who enjoys baking may like looking through a box filled with a whisk, cups and spoons, recipe cards, etc. Once completed, reminisce with the older adult about what it was like working with those items. You might be surprised at the memories they spark.
- Create decorations. There are a lot of hand-crafted decoration ideas when it comes to the holidays, but you don’t have to wait until December to get crafty. Thread large wooden beads or even dry penne pasta into bracelets or necklaces for the grandchildren. Create a scrapbook from pictures – or, decorate picture frames to display favorite images in a prominent place in the house. The ideas are unlimited – but the point is to make something useful or meaningful.
- Help another in need. In the event that the senior is passionate about a specific cause, such as helping the homeless or volunteering at the children’s medical center, think of ways that they can still make a difference in that area. Perhaps you could collect coats for a local shelter, enlisting the senior’s help in sorting and packing them into bags to deliver. Or, select toys together and drop them off for children in the hospital.
Live Free Home Health Care, provider of senior care services in Bristol, NH and the surrounding areas, helps seniors with dementia continue to live purposeful, fulfilling lives. Our caregivers can help to find fun and engaging activities for seniors with dementia. Call us today at 603-217-0149 to schedule a free in-home assessment for more information on how we can help a senior you love.