Although the condition has no known cure, there are many activities for dementia patients that may mitigate the loss of memory and cognition or even improve an individual’s condition. Many loved ones of seniors find themselves in the position of communicating with their aging loved one through various stages of dementia (often Alzheimer’s particularly), so it becomes very important to keep them active and engaged. Activities for dementia patients may benefit not only their cognitive function, calmness, and sense of security, but also their mood, living conditions, and overall health. This article will list several forms of entertainment, chores, and exercise that can help dementia patients.
Seniors with dementia often benefit from playing simple games with loved ones. While dementia makes counting difficult, bingo and board games based on strategy can stimulate seniors’ cognition. Trivia games, crosswords, puzzles, and computer games have been shown to keep dementia patients’ cognition sharp, albeit with the possible risk of distressing them about memory loss. Improvisation games, building games, spelling games, card games, clay, and dolls can keep them at the moment and engaged if thinking about the past becomes difficult.
Engaging in cherished family activities can stimulate your loved one’s memory to the point of consistently keeping them happy, even if they do not fully remember the activity’s significance. Favorite movies, books (especially read aloud), music, shows, and games can help loved ones with dementia relax, bond with you, and sometimes recall memories. Many seniors with dementia retain their sense of humor and will respond positively to familiar or otherwise appropriate jokes. Many creative activities will help them keep new memories from recent engagement; these include stringing beads, knitting, crafting, painting, journaling, floral arranging, singing and playing music, and making memory boxes from beloved comfort items.
Still, other activities will keep seniors social and engaged with their environments. Many community groups such as special interest clubs, coffee shops, and places of worship will continue welcoming them, especially if you or a caregiver explain how to accommodate them. Museums in particular can keep dementia patients engaged with new and familiar information. You can also encourage your loved one to join groups in senior living communities, which often include games and dancing. As for socializing with them yourself, touching hands has been shown to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and touch starvation.
While many of them might be inconvenient activities that nevertheless need doing, completing chores with aging loved ones can help keep their living space healthy and comfortable and provide them with a sense of accomplishment. Everyday activities such as sorting clothes, sweeping, making beds, doing laundry, wiping tables, folding towels, organizing items, and polishing silverware can stimulate dementia patients’ cognition with minimal strain. These activities may require a caregiver’s assistance, but completing them can reduce stress and improve seniors’ sense of control and security all the same. Most importantly, these chores create a living space conducive to good mental health.
For seniors in the early stages of dementia or otherwise receiving enough outside help to make it possible, there are many voluntary chores that can improve seniors’ health and mood. For instance, gardening can provide seniors with exercise, fresh air, food, feelings of accomplishment, and a healthy routine. Caring for pets also confers many health benefits; social animals such as cats and dogs provide companionship, and low-maintenance animals such as fish keep routines on track. In fact, caring for pets reduces rates of depression, stress, and the weight loss associated with forgetting to keep a routine.
Keeping a routine becomes easier for dementia patients when feelings of accomplishment accompany it. For instance, helping them cook meals and treats can keep them active and remind them of cherished recipes. In any case, you should help loved ones complete routine tasks such as eating and sleeping at consistent times each day; following your lead, they may keep a healthy routine afterward. When you provide loved one's tasks they can complete without issue, you can stimulate their memory by assigning familiar practices: having them utilize work skills, visit familiar and comfortable places in their area, communicate about memories, indulge in spirituality, and enjoy aromatherapy can all remind seniors of past experiences.
Finally, many exercises can benefit dementia patients’ minds and bodies alike. Swimming and water aerobics can provide seniors lasting happiness, Tai Chi can reduce stress and falls (because it improves balance), walking regularly can slow the progression of dementia, and yoga and meditation can benefit various parts of the brain. These all qualify as low-maintenance exercises that many dementia patients can work into their routines, and they do not involve great physical strain or energy expenses. Performing any of these regularly can significantly improve seniors’ health.
Many of the above exercises require only basic supervision, but seniors in better health can try several other, more rigorous exercises. These include cardiovascular exercises, biking, and hiking. Plenty of senior groups also exist for these activities, often with accommodations for physical and mental limitations. If you encourage loved ones to take up exercise even before they show signs of dementia, you can help them temporarily alter the trajectory of the condition and improve their overall health. Besides these benefits, regular exercise can also improve seniors’ balance, hand-eye coordination, posture, stamina, muscles, and organ health.
When dementia progresses into its late stages, even simple activities become difficult through no fault of anyone involved –but if you share these activities with loved ones, you can still make a monumental difference for their health and wellness. It is important to know their limits and your own so that you can maintain a healthy relationship; if your loved one does not want to engage in an activity, take a break and hear their advice on what they would change about it before participating. The activities themselves matter more than the results because they are only part of dementia treatment –but a crucial part. When you choose activities your loved one will need or enjoy, they can be as healthy and happy as possible at any stage of dementia.Want more resources? Learn More >>
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