Dementia has a way of disrupting and slowly destroying one’s life. It can become irreversible and progress into a much more severe disorder like Alzheimer’s disease.
However, an individual can halt its deteriorating effects by sticking to their doctor’s intervention plans, such as engaging in mind-stimulating and interactive activities for seniors.
Just like normal older adults, seniors with dementia will significantly benefit from doing fun and fulfilling activities. It will help lift their spirits and ward off unpleasant feelings like boredom, loneliness, and anxiety.
So, if you have a senior loved one currently battling dementia, then you should introduce stimulating hobbies to keep their physical and cognitive health sharp.
But before doing so, make sure to choose activities that your loved one loves. Get to know their talents and interests from other relatives first, before suggesting an activity.
To give you an idea, here are some excellent activities or games you can do with your senior loved one!
Simple Physical Activities
Everyone gains plenty of positive outcomes in doing regular exercise, but more so for seniors with dementia.
Studies suggest seniors experiencing early to middle stage dementia should engage in regular physical activities to improve their physical health. It can also enhance their sleeping habits and get rid of their constant irritability and restlessness.
Plus, exercising allows them to have something to do, thus giving them a purpose to continue life positively. Some exercises you can try with your loved one include:
- Walking or jogging around your community
- Tandem biking
- Yoga or water aerobics
- Enroll in a senior-appropriate fitness class
- Seated exercises
Fun Board and Trivia Games
Besides physical activities, seniors can also try engaging in creative and mind-stimulating games, such as board games and trivia.
Before picking a board game, make sure to gauge your loved one’s abilities first, then choose a game suitable to their level and dementia stage. Challenging and complex games will just frustrate them even more, which can affect their self-confidence.
Try starting with simple ones like Snake and Ladders and Ludo. You can also include card games like UNO or an interactive one like charades.
Do Some Painting and Drawing
Art has become an excellent medium for individuals to unleash their creativity, relax their whole being, and express themselves. Thus, making it one of the most effective activities for seniors with dementia.
Art activities, like painting and drawing, have the power to let the brain work, recall some memories, and bring back lost abilities and information.
For starters, looking at the color palette already makes the brain active. The same thing happens when your loved one thinks of a particular subject they want to draw or paint.
Boosting cognitive functions is just one of its many benefits. It also:
- Enhances motor and critical thinking skills.
- Promotes calmness and relaxation.
- Gives room for self-development.
- Cultivates creative and emotional growth.
- Improves communication skills.
Dabble in Arts and Crafts
Another way to encourage your loved ones to express themselves through art is by doing crafty projects like scrapbooking, collage making, and playing with play dough.
These crafts are perfect for seniors not interested in either painting or drawing but who want to pursue an arts and crafts hobby.
Scrapbooking and collage making allows them to tap into their creative spirit using simple art techniques like cutting, arranging, and decorating.
Furthermore, some art activities can also enhance seniors’ tactile system (sensory), especially tasks that require them to use their hands.
Take a Trip Down Memory Lane
Studies suggest that people with dementia can strongly recall long-term memories than recent events. This means that you can maximize this ability by reminiscing the good ‘ole days of your loved one through several activities like:
- Making a scrapbook or collage (with your loved one) with old photos and events triggers good memories to resurface.
- Watching past videos of special events together.
- Interviewing your loved one about their past life.
- Initiating a conversation about their favorites things (e.g., favorite holiday, cousin)
Recalling memories allow seniors to exercise their brain and keep it active. It is also an excellent way to build self-confidence and develop a hopeful heart about their situation.
Plus, engaging in a conversation lets seniors improve their communication skills and develop a much healthier relationship with loved ones.
Music occupies a special place in everyone’s heart. No matter where you are at in life, you definitely enjoy music, one way or another. However, music’s importance goes beyond enjoyment and fun in a dementia-ridden senior’s life.
Hearing relevant music helps seniors recall the memories attached to it–where they were, their companions, and their feelings. It is like looking at old photos or family videos, except this time, they use their sense of hearing.
Many doctors do music therapy for seniors with dementia for its various benefits like:
- Mind and body relaxation
- Promotes a festive mood and demeanor
- Improvement of emotional health
Make Simple Recipes
For loved ones with a penchant for whipping up tasty meals, you can encourage them to get back into it by cooking simple recipes together. You can either let them teach you how to make their specialty dish or help each other cook a new one.
The steps typically done in cooking (i.e., mixing, kneading, arranging) can act as a relaxation activity for seniors. It also allows them to feel purposeful and productive since they contributed something to the family in their own simple way.
Just make sure to prioritize their safety by choosing the appropriate kitchen activities to assign to them.
Enjoy Mundane Tasks
Who says everyday tasks cannot become a source of fulfillment and purpose for your loved ones?
Some of the best activities for seniors with dementia are actually the mundane ones that we usually dread. This includes household chores like
- Laundry folding
- Sweeping or vacuuming the floor
- Raking leaves
- Cleaning the silverware
These tasks are practical, helpful, and not to mention physically stimulating. Moreover, they help seniors become more interactive and allow them to boost their self-esteem.