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Dementia Activities – How They Help

February 18, 2021
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group of seniors doing exercise

Staying active and engaged is beneficial for both physical and cognitive health, so it’s particularly important for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to engage in daily activities. We all enjoy taking part in meaningful activities that bring us enjoyment and purpose and this is also true for people living with dementia.

Each person living with dementia is unique and research shows that maintaining relationships and interests can help people living with dementia lead a better quality of life. Dementia can cause people to become distracted or withdraw from activities, so by taking part in meaningful activities with structure and routine, this helps to maintain their cognitive function, sense of security, and can calm anxious or challenging behaviours [1].

Linking dementia activities to everyday skills, hobbies and interests that a person enjoyed before their dementia diagnosis can offer many rewarding benefits. With a little planning and preparation, you can help keep yourself or a loved one busy and actively engaged in meaningful activities.

Creative dementia activities

Communications and learning functions are two key areas that are typically lost in the early stages of dementia. Creative activities for dementia can help stimulate the creative part of the brain and foster a dialogue through artistic expression. Creative activities for dementia can include:

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Craft
  • Listening to music

Research shows that these activities help people living with symptoms of dementia create and communicate in a non-verbal way [1]. They also allow dementia patients to feel a greater connection to the world around them and express their imagination.

close up of hands doing painting, a dementia activity

Ageless Grace is an ‘all-rounder’ dementia activity that connects people to music, movement, and exercise while allowing them to expresses themselves in an enjoyable environment. The social program is accompanied with music and incorporates everyday movements that are natural and organic. Performed best with bare-feet, sitting in a chair, those that take part also get to enjoy singing along to their favourite songs.

Reminiscence activities for dementia

Many conversations and interactions we have usually rely on short term memory and this is an area for people living with dementia that is challenging. Reminiscence dementia activities, including life story work or memory boxes can offer an opportunity to share experiences, memories and stories from the past [2]. Typically, a person living with dementia is more able to recall things from many years ago rather than recent memories, so reminiscence draws on this strength. Activities focusing on reminiscence can help improve mood and wellbeing, and promotes social inclusion.

Memory boxes may prompt certain memories and they’re a great way of helping relatives and friends stay connected. With each item pulled out of the box, whether it be a photo of a holiday from childhood or a ticket stub to a concert, ask questions and encourage conversation surrounding the item. This is a beautiful way to show genuine interest in what the person with dementia is saying and to show that you value their story.

senior woman does a reminiscence activty

Consistency is key

Providing regular, meaningful activities for people with dementia supports them to live with a better quality of life. Consistent meaningful activities suited to individual needs creates purpose for someone living with dementia and should form part of their care plan.
Always encourage them to keep trying, and to continue engaging in activities that provide a sense of enjoyment, purpose and relaxation. It is also important to encourage activities which provide mental stimulation, and promote better health and wellbeing.

Need support?

At Be, we provide clinical care services for people living with dementia. If you or a loved one needs support, we can help. Call or send an online enquiry to one of our friendly staff members today, and we’ll discuss your options and next steps.

References:
[1] https://www.dementia.org.au/about-dementia/i-am-a-carer-family-member-or-friend/activities-for-people-with-dementia
[2] https://www.dementia.org.au/national/support-and-services/carers/therapies-and-communication-approaches

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