Fun, Low-Stress Things To Do With Dementia Patients
Dementia is something that usually affects the elderly, but it can also happen to younger people too. It reduces both their mental and physical abilities. If you have a loved one that has this particular ailment, it’s a great idea to keep a list of things to do with dementia patients. By actively taking a part in their well being, you will be helping in a huge way to make their transition easier. You’ll also improve their overall quality of life.
What Is Dementia?
When a person develops dementia, their mind is not working properly anymore. And, this seems to come and go. Some days are better than others. They often have their own reality and sometimes they have difficulties trying to do the simplest of things that need to be done.
Since some seniors with dementia regress back to a younger period in their life, they may need assistance with a variety of ordinary, daily care. In the hardest cases, a person that has dementia is sent to a nursing home where they can be cared for on a 24-hour basis so that the family has time to rest and complete their responsibilities. This can be a difficult decision to make.
Will All People Develop Dementia?
No, not everyone will experience dementia. It affects many people, but not all. For those that it affects, it is a scary time of their lives. Many people forget this is also a scary time for family members and loved ones too. Often the patient with dementia doesn’t realize what is happening to them. But, the family members have to watch the day to day deterioration.
Because of this many family members aren’t sure how to visit their loved one with dementia. Often, dementia suffers don’t talk a lot. They may not enjoy activities they once loved. But, sometimes, doing an activity they were once fond of can spark some recognition.
So, to help with this, here are a few ideas of activities you can do with a person with dementia.
What Are Some Things To Do With Dementia Patients?
There are many activities you can do with someone with dementia. Please read through these so that you can assist your loved one as they go through this scary passage of their life:
Holding a person’s hands that has dementia is important. This is because it grounds them. It makes them feel as if they are still a part of the world. In their minds, they do not feel as if they are part of the world anymore, and by holding your hand, it can make all the difference in the world for them.
Singing and Music
Singing and music have been known to help in many ways for all different kinds of ailments. This is the case with dementia patients also. They can still hear the music and try to sing. Sometimes it brings them back from the fog that they are in, and they really improve because of it.
Many seniors with dementia still enjoy playing games. Board games and card games are still possible for most of these folks. Just adapt the game to their mental and physical abilities. A list of easy to play board games to consider can be found in this guide.
Nice, happy visitors are also a way to reach a person with dementia. It may jar their memory to see someone that they used to know and love. Make sure that the people are happy and calm when they are around the patient. If they need to leave the room, they should so that they don’t upset the person that is having the problem.
Going Out to Eat
Some seniors love going out to eat – even if they have dementia. Good food with family and friends can bring back many happy memories. This is also a great opportunity to make sure they get a healthy meal. Take into account the overall health of the senior though – not every senior with dementia does well in large public gatherings.
Dancing is a form of exercise, and the dementia patients need to have their exercise too. They will love to dance, and even if they are in a wheelchair, it is possible to allow them to dance. This will also allow them to meet other people of their own age group so that they do not feel so alone in the world.
Laughter is very important. It makes a huge difference in any person’s life. A dementia patient likes to hear laughter. They love to giggle. Make sure that you keep the conversations light, simple and humorous at times. This will give them more hope as they are transitioning through life’s patterns.
Unless the person has vision difficulties, photographs can make a huge difference. Bring happy memories for them to look at and make sure that you give them all the details on what took place on that day so that they can remember too. They may go in and out of phases that can affect them deeply, but a photograph can be very comforting for them on a regular basis.
Work a Puzzle Together
Most seniors really enjoy putting together puzzles. It brings on a sense of accomplishment and pride. This can be especially true for dementia patients. Just find a nice, simple puzzle you can work together. Remember their physical abilities too. Puzzles with larger pieces are better if the senior has arthritis. Here are few puzzles that may work for this.
You can read to a dementia patient. They will listen to you whether you realize it or not. Sometimes they will drift off to sleep because they are tired. Other times, they will just close their eyes but they are still listening. And that’s ok!
Make sure that you read in an interesting way that will allow the dementia patient to grasp the picture of what you are saying their mind. Their mind still works, it is just foggy at times.
If at all possible, let a person with dementia get into the water. Make sure that someone is always watching for them. The water creates a safe environment because it is difficult to get a physical injury in a swimming pool. It also provides them with comfort and the exercise that they need in order to stay as healthy as possible. Check with your doctor or therapist about this option.
If at all possible, it is a good idea to get a dementia patient outside to get fresh air and a nice walk in. They will love it, and they will be able to see nature all around them. Get them out and about whenever it is possible. Even simple exercise will make them feel better.
Make the holidays fun. Always decorate for them so that they can find solace in knowing that the holidays still happen even though they are not feeling up to their normal self. You can also wear holiday clothing so that they can see and touch it. This will also help to keep them in reality more.
Holidays to a dementia person can make all the difference in the world for them. They remember them in their own way, but knowing that they still come around every year is comforting for them. Of course, don’t forget to bring the gifts!
There will be frustration when doing some of these activities. So, I recommend having lots of patience on hand. If an activity isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change to a different activity. Don’t let your frustration build. If you need to take a break from what is happening, remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes.
Once you find the right activity, you’ll be able to have fun with your loved one. They may even start reminiscing and telling you stories you have never heard. Just remember: they need you, and you love them. Stay strong, don’t be afraid to try new activities, and you will both feel better.
What things have you tried to do with a dementia patient? Any major successes? Or, how about failures? Please share in the comments below! If you found this guide helpful, please share it on your favorite social media.
Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®
About This Site
Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS Founder / Editor
My name is Scott Grant and I work daily with seniors as a custom wheelchair specialist at a home medical equipment company. I see these people struggle as they lose their independence. I watch their families try to help them but most don't even know where to start. Few are even aware of their options. I'm here to help!
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