Taking part in activities can significantly enrich the lives of those with dementia and provide an excellent opportunity for caregivers to bond with their family members. Some activities have even been shown to promote cognitive functioning.
Origin Active Lifestyle Communities offer memory and dementia care programs throughout Canada, including Calgary and Nanaimo. We’re sharing some activities that promote cognitive functioning and how you can help your family member enjoy them.
The Benefits of Activities in Dementia Care
Engaging individuals with dementia or memory loss in activities can serve many benefits to their overall health and well-being, including:
- Providing structure and routine
- Building confidence and self-esteem
- Maintaining and strengthening motor skills
- Promoting cognitive functioning and slowing the decline of memory loss
- Creating a bonding experience for families and carers
- Providing a sense of productivity and accomplishment
- Reducing anxiety and other challenging behaviours
Tips for Success When Planning Activities
To ensure that both you and your family member get the most out of scheduled activities, follow these recommendations:
- Plan your activities during a time of day when you know your family member will be alert and in a good mood, typically during the morning or daytime.
- Thoroughly explain the activity to your family member before you get started.
- Try to make the activity as sensorily engaging as possible while also being aware of any physical limitations such as sight, hearing, or mobility.
- Be flexible and understanding on how your family member is feeling about the activity. If they get frustrated, stop the activity and try again another time.
Activity Ideas to Promote Cognitive Function
Arts & Crafts
Art projects can be a great activity choice as they are calming, physically stimulating, and allow for creativity and self-expression. Some options for simple craft activities include painting, magazine collages, projects with tissue paper and doilies, or something more tactile, like clay sculpting or jewelry making.
Activities Around the Home
Even though individuals with dementia may not be able to tend to the house and chores like they used to, they may still feel a sense of accomplishment by completing tasks around the house. Set up stations where your family member can complete tangible activities such as folding towels, drying dishes, or sorting the recycling. It may seem small, but allowing them to do it on their own can create a feeling of achievement and independence.
Going on a Walk Outside
Going on a walk can be a great way to get some fresh air while stimulating the senses. You can walk through a flower garden, next to a creek, or explore a local park. The different settings can be a great way to work on concentration and slow down cognitive decline.
Brain Games & Puzzles
Not only can challenging your brain help to prevent Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related conditions, but they can help slow the progression of the disease, as well. Some fun and stimulating brain games include crossword puzzles and word searches, jigsaw puzzles, chess and checkers, Scrabble, and other word games. Several websites that have online resources and games for older adults.
Music & Photo Therapy
Both music therapy and photo therapy are great ways for individuals with dementia to engage their senses while encouraging memory and cognition. Looking at old photos and hearing familiar songs have been shown to improve cognitive skills while simultaneously reducing behaviour problems. If you try this activity, be sure to only incorporate positive memories so as not to upset your family member.
Stay Engaged with Activities
It can be challenging to ensure that your family member with dementia is consistently engaged, stimulated, and challenged. By incorporating these fun and enriching activities into their daily routine, you can work to promote cognitive functioning, enhance their mood, prevent behaviour complications, and enjoy meaningful time together.
If you are caring for a family member or loved one with dementia, it’s important to know you’re not alone. It can be challenging at times, but there are plenty of resources available to help you. For more information on dementia care or to learn about Origin’s memory and dementia care communities in Canada, visit our Active Lifestyle Blog.