19 Activities for Seniors with Dementia
19 Activities for Seniors with Dementia. It’s important to remember that those suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia are people too–they want and need companionship and purpose just like anyone else. These invigorating, interactive activities for seniors with dementia provide enjoyable, creative, and worthwhile ways to spend time with your loved one while also tapping into their previous passions and strengths.
- Try knitting or crochet
- Hand your aging relative a homemade quilt or skein of yarn, letting them feel the weight and texture. Even if they have cognitive impairments, they may still be able to do some crochet work or knitting.
- The joy of sounds
- If your elderly relative liked music, try introducing simple instruments or sing-alongs. Even if they have mild cognitive decline, their musical ability might last longer than other memory functions. And for those with more advanced impairments, nursery rhymes and maracas can still encourage creative expression.
- Let’s get visual
- Expressing feelings can be tough, but painting and drawing are great outlets. They allow seniors with dementia to explore their creativity without getting too stressed out. butcher paper is a great way for them to create without worrying about defined spaces.
- Sensory experiences; tactile crafts
- We highly recommend seniors with cognitive decline work with slippery clay or malleable play-dough as a way of benefiting from tactile stimulation and creativity. According to her, they should feel a variety of objects with different shapes, sizes, and textures. Additionally, she believes that they should rub their hands in lotion.
- Collages can be powerful
- To do this activity, you’ll need some magazines, old ads, and articles. Cut out images that fit your loved one’s interests—for example, cooking, cars, or fashion. You could also scan and print old family pictures. Then let your family member with dementia arrange and rearrange the elements to create pictures or scrapbook pages.
“Good Ol’ Days” activities for dementia patients at home
Reminiscence therapy connects seniors with positive memories from their past by using sensory or visual cues. Instead of directly questioning them, which could cause stress or confusion, try asking general questions about the person’s life instead. For instance, if you’re looking at pictures from childhood, inquire generally about growing up rather than trying to recall where an image was taken.
- Look through photo albums. Photo albums with pictures from your loved one’s childhood or young adulthood can bring back favorite memories. You can also scan or take digital pictures of old photos to create books.
- Bust out the VHS tapes TV shows(MeTV)
- If your aging parent grew up watching westerns like “Gunsmoke” or musicals like “The King and I,” you can find their old favorites streaming online. Add some movie snacks for a fun family activity!
- Music and belt out some notes!
- According to the nonprofit group Music and Memory, “Familiar songs can awaken associated memories within the brain(stimulus).” Stream classics or sing memorable songs like holiday carols with your loved one. Sing-alongs and music classes were more common in mid-century schools; you might be surprised at how many songs from childhood your loved one remembers.
- Jar thoughts through catalogs and magazines
- Before Amazon and big-box stores, people did most of their shopping from catalogs(see Sears). They stayed up to date on news and trends with magazines. Try to find original copies or reprints of magazines they enjoyed in their younger years, like Life, and the Sears and Roebuck catalog. Try Old Farmer’s Almanac for seniors who used to spend time in the kitchen or came from simpler living.
Job well done; activities for people with dementia at home
Everyone enjoys the good feeling of completing a task, and this is especially important for seniors with dementia. Providing them with activities that they can feel successful in will give them daily accomplishments to increase their self-worth. When choosing an activity, make sure to consider the person’s level of cognitive decline. The ideal activity is one that makes them feel productive.
- Fold laundry
- Laundry is a common activity for most elderly individuals, especially women. The soft fabric and continuous movement can be soothing, while the classic detergent smell may bring back fond memories. To start, do easy items like hand towels and T-shirts. Avoid more complicated clothing such as fitted sheets and button-down shirts.
- Be Handy or the illusion of handy
- If your aging relative loved to tinker, suggest a project with visible results; such as painting wooden boards or fitting together PVC pipes. These activities are perfect for seniors who still have a high motor function. If they are more in the advanced dementia stages, don’t worry! There are plenty of other options available that provide similar experiences; like wooden or plastic play tools.
- Untie knots
- Make sure to tie knots that aren’t too tight, and use a smooth rope so the elderly person can have fun untying them.
- Pick a puzzle that has large, easily-grabbed pieces. Wooden puzzles that match colors or shapes help with matching and are fail-safe.
The “nose knows” activities for people with dementia
- Stop and smell the coffee, freshly cut grass, or warm bread. Smells are POWERFUL.
- Harvard scientists’ studies propose that more distinct emotional memories are provoked by smells than images. This is because scents enter and affect the hippocampus and amygdala, which as we know control our memory. A comforting smell- say like flowers from a past garden or baked Christmas cookies- can trigger happy emotions due to bittersweet memories. However, on the other hand, it’s crucial to escape any scent that causes unease. Triggers such as diesel fuel or gunpowder for example, commonly disturb older veterans who suffer from PTSD.
- Familiar objects
- Exploring with one’s hands can help access memories that may not be available through pictures or words. Even if your loved one does not remember their first car or wedding, the feeling of heavy keys or delicate pearls might lead to reminiscence.
- Taste of History
- Taste can evoke feelings and memories. Your mom’s infamous chocolate cake might remind you of birthdays past; a sip of instant coffee could bring back mornings spent at home.
- Feel the textures
- Stimulating the senses can help aging family members retain their memory. If your loved one enjoys spending time with pets, consider using soft fur from an animal. If they liked gardening, suggest touching damp soil or leaves. You can also use textures to provide fulfilled activities — try making a bag of fabrics or blocks that need to be sorted by touch.
Technology-based dementia activities for seniors
Technological advances don’t just stop at improving our work productivity or social media following– they can also have positive impacts on our physical and mental well-being, especially as we age. Take, for example, immersive technology which has been shown to provide cognitive benefits for people living with dementia.
- Explore the world with live cams
- Internet live streams of animals at zoos, nature preserves, and aquariums offer opportunities for enrichment and connection to the outside world for people living with dementia who are otherwise housebound.
- Travel the world with Google Earth
- Google Earth allows users to upload photos from across the globe. If there’s a place your relative loves — whether it’s their childhood hometown or the Sahara Desert — you can load the location into Google Earth and let them explore.