For those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s, a life without mental and physical stimulation produces feelings of boredom, anxiety, and even depression. Keeping your family member active and engaged is one of the most important aspects of caregiving. The right activities stir memories, foster emotional connections, encourage self-expression, and boost the self-esteem of those with dementia.
Looking for activities to do with your loved one but don’t know where to start? We have created a list of dementia activities you can do with your family member to promote mental stimulation and confidence.
Activities to Perform With a Family Member
Play a Game
Incorporating brain games and activities in the daily life of your loved one with dementia provides them with the social and mental stimulation needed to maintain the best possible life. Games that are mentally stimulating and fun can help slow the deterioration of cognitive abilities.
Excellent activities to consider for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia include card games, Dominoes, and old board games such as Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, and Connect Four. We recommend integrating familiar games into your loved ones daily routine to promote recognition and dignity.
Bingo, a highly-stimulating dementia game, triggers long-term memory. However, we suggest simplifying the Bingo boards for a family member with dementia to ensure it contains fewer numbers and larger print. Overall, the more visual the activity is, the better. Matching games that allow your family member to match words with familiar phrases or similar images are also encouraged.
Lastly, a new but increasingly popular activity for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s is video games. Alzheimer-friendly video games can be a stimulating alternative to card games. Try video games such as Tetris—a tile-matching game.
Cook a Meal
Cooking and eating are deeply embedded in our daily lives. Next time, when you are preparing a simple lunch, dinner, or a yummy dessert, consider having your family member with dementia participate in this activity.
Food is often connected to strong emotions and rich memories of gathering around the table for special occasions. If your family member with Alzheimer’s used to cook during the holidays, this is a great activity that will give your mom or dad an accomplishment. Cook a meal together or bake. Remember to be encouraging and keep it simple.
Listen to Music
If you’re looking for Alzheimer’s activities that promote nostalgia and recognition, we recommend playing your family members favorite artists or songs. This will create an enjoyable and comfortable atmosphere for your mom or dad.
Sing, and if accessible, dance together. An excellent activity to promote recollection is to listen to a familiar singer, genre, or band with your mother or father. Perhaps create a playlist of their favorite music. To get them even more excited, show them videos of their favorite artists performing live.
Perform Exercise Activities
As with everyone, daily exercise activities are directly associated with maintaining a positive mood. For those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, physical activity can lower the risk of depression, prevent restlessness, and manage a good sleep cycle. Of course, exercise activities will vary on your loved one’s physical and cognitive ability.
A simple activity to conduct with a family member that has dementia may include walking around a local park or neighborhood. Other activities include fishing and water aerobics. We suggest considering special workshops and exercise classes dedicated to those with dementia.
Maintain a Garden
Gardening is a wonderful activity to perform alongside a parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s because it promotes mental and physical stimulation. Gardening activities can reduce stress, prevent behavioral challenges, and even help your loved one sleep better at night.
To take it further, you can create a stimulating activity for a family member that has dementia with dried plants from the garden and trees to make creative picture art. Working on crafts can help loved ones with dementia learn about different leaves and plants. This in turn stimulates various areas of the brain and can help slow the effects of dementia.
Nature walks are a simple activity to perform with a family member that is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Short or long walks will help keep your mom or dad healthy and active. Take a walk through nature, visit a botanical garden, feed birds at a pond, or simply sit in your garden. Whether your loved one walks independently or uses a support device, such as a wheelchair, getting fresh air and sunlight is absolutely therapeutic for everyone.
Adopt a Pet
Pets are a comforting and soothing investment, especially for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. To keep your loved one engaged and content, get them a pet that fits their lifestyle and abilities. Getting your family member a pet will provide them with daily activities and responsibilities that consist of feeding, walking, and playing. Of course, there are many factors to consider. Ensuring that the pet is properly cared for is the first priority.
For those with advanced dementia, consider getting them a stuffed animal or robotic cat, or encourage them to participate in Pet Therapy programs. This will help bring your loved one comfort, calmness, and a sense of purpose.
Perform Arts & Crafts
Arts and crafts encourage creativity and self-expression. Encourage a family member with dementia to participate in art activities such as knitting, painting, coloring, and even making things with non-toxic play dough. Arts and crafts offer a wide variety of sensory stimulation for your family member and are a super fun activity to enjoy together.
What Excites Your Loved One?
Ultimately, the best dementia activity for your loved one should be related to their hobbies or interests. Ask your loved one the activity they would like to do! Participate in activities that are familiar, intriguing, or exciting to them. This will make for a more rich and meaningful experience .
Ways to Promote Self-Esteem Among Individuals With Alzheimer’s & Dementia
Display Appreciation to Your Family Member
While participating in dementia activities with a family member, remember to always show your appreciation. Praise your loved one if they participate in an activity , paint a lovely picture, or help you bake cookies. Celebrate with your mom or dad during a fun game or complement their skillful dance moves while listening to music. Engaging in “failure-free” activities and giving your loved one constant gratification will uplift their spirits.
However, remember to give honest praise to individuals with Alzheimer’s. If the compliment is not genuine or not merited, your loved one may sense this and be put off. Find something your loved one is doing, and keep an honest tone—this will make your loved one feel good about themselves.
Ask Your Loved One For Help
Helping others brings joy for a lot of people, so why wouldn’t it do the same for your loved one? In your day-to-day tasks and activities, consider asking your loved one with dementia for help. Make sure it’s something that is completely obtainable and express your appreciation for their help. This will help make your family member happy.
Give a Gift to Your Family Member
Gift-giving is always an exciting and nurturing activity for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. For those living with dementia, this can give them great pleasure and a sense of worth.
Give your mom or dad a gift that is related to their previous hobbies, pleasures, and interests. Make the gift personal. Ensure that the gift has a visual, auditory, or tactile appeal to it. This will be a wonderful surprise for your loved one with dementia.
Choose Achievable Alzheimer’s & Dementia Activities
Remember, whatever activity you decide to perform with your family member, it’s important to make sure it’s achievable. Also, try not to make the activity too easy for your mom or dad with Alzheimer’s. Your loved one may become bored or agitated with an activity that doesn’t have true value. However, giving a loved one something that’s necessary but easily achievable will give them a sense of purpose.
We’re Here to Help
At Terra Vista, we’re wholeheartedly committed to making sure your family member lives a meaningful life. This means creating stimulating dementia-friendly activities that are fun, comforting, and soothing. The staff at our Alzheimer’s and dementia care community in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois offer a wide variety of programs and complementary therapies such as a gardening club, art therapy, yoga, aromatherapy, music therapy, field trip outings, and more. We also offer a memory respite care program that is designed to give caregivers temporary relief. If you need help caring for a mother, father, or family member with dementia, give our staff a call by phone at (630) 534-0886. Terra Vista offers innovative memory and dementia care options to enhance the quality of your loved ones life.
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