When your loved one has dementia, many things have to change. One of the most difficult is that the way you previously connected with your loved one may be unattainable due to their cognitive function. Unfortunately, this means that many individuals with dementia end up lonely, isolated, and withdrawn. Therefore, many caregivers are always looking for meaningful activities to do with their loved one with dementia.
Fortunately, just because your loved one has dementia, doesn’t mean that they can’t engage with you — in fact, it’s of the utmost importance that they do. To help you find common ground with your loved one with dementia, we have compiled a list of activities you can do together that are both therapeutic and fun.
Adult coloring books have become quite popular recently due to their therapeutic properties. Coloring is a mindful activity that is naturally soothing, and is a great way to spend time with your loved one with dementia. If coloring isn’t their thing, there are a variety of activity books they may enjoy, such as crossword puzzles, sudoku, word searches, and mazes. These are great options for seniors with dementia because it relieves stress while making them feel accomplished.
Baking is a soothing activity for many, and for a senior, this can be a great way to get them in the kitchen and reminiscing about great times with the kids (and grandkids). Try getting them to help you make a favorite family recipe and watch as the smile creeps across their face when the kitchen fills with a familiar (and tasty) smell.
Go on a Walk
Walks are a fantastic way to engage with your senior loved one with dementia. Not only does it get you both moving, it also affords the opportunity to explore and get out of the house for a bit. Try visiting a favorite public garden or park to help them connect with some pleasant memories. If you go somewhere new, make sure it is accessible for seniors, particularly if they need a walker or wheelchair.
Play with a Pet
The therapeutic impact of animals is well-documented, and if your loved one doesn’t have a furry friend at home, a great activity for you may be visiting a cute little creature. If you have a pet of your own, you can spend time with them with your senior loved one, or you can spend some time at the local animal shelter. Even a trip to the zoo can have a calming effect and lift a senior’s spirits.
Puzzles are a wonderful way to bring the whole family together. Puzzles stimulate cognition and memory and are a great conversation starter. You don’t have to choose a giant puzzle with a million tiny pieces — in fact, it’s better if you don’t. Select a puzzle with bigger pieces that are attainable for your loved one to complete.
If your loved one loves to read, it doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Read out loud to them! This is particularly meaningful if memory loss or poor eyesight makes it unrealistic for them to read a book. Being read to is both stimulating and engaging, making it a great activity for you to share together.
Manipulating playdough is great for the motor skills, plus, it’s just plain fun. Give your loved one the chance to be creative and try something new by introducing them to playdough. Make it even more fun by making it together (try this simple recipe).
One of the most devastating aspects of dementia is memory loss, so scrapbooking can be a great way to remind your senior loved one of special memories. Plus, it’s a fun and creative activity to do together. Have them pick their favorite family photos to scrapbook, or simply make a collage of different pictures your senior likes.
Your loved one may not be able to actively tend to a garden by themselves, but they can certainly help you! Even something as simple as a small herb garden can be a great bonding activity. Having them help you with your garden can be a wonderful way to spend time outside, get a moderate amount of exercise, and connect with each other.
Music is a powerful tool for memory, and singing along to their favorite songs may be exactly what your loved one needs to have a more positive day. Singing evokes memories, reduces stress, and brings the whole family together. If you’re musical, you can play an instrument and sing with them, but you could also simply sing along to the radio.
Bird watching can be a fun hobby, and many seniors enjoy spending time observing avian friends. Try investing in a bird feeder with bird seed, or you can make your own snacks for birds by stringing Cheerios on yarn and hanging them outside your home. Then you can sit back, relax, and watch the birds enjoying your hard work.
At Evergreen Home Health Care, our home health aides in Fort Collins are happy to engage our clients with dementia in therapeutic and fun activities. If you’re looking for help in Colorado, contact us today!