Dementia can be overwhelming for both the person suffering from it and those who love and care for them. It can be characterized by memory loss, changes in personality and confusion. The disorders that fall under the umbrella of dementia can impact almost every area of a person’s life. Dementia can make it hard for one to communicate his or her needs. It can also affect ones independence, often leading to the impaired judgment and the need for professional in-home care services. But this doesn’t mean that all of life’s fun has to stop. In fact, those who have dementia need enjoyable experiences to provide them with some sense of normalcy. The list below offers several activities to entertain seniors with dementia regardless of if they are receiving respite care, in an elderly home, or aging in place.
Dementia negatively affects those who battle with it by hijacking their memories and impacting their connections. Many patients with dementia are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In the beginning stages of this disorder, short-term memory is affected. Your loved one may forget simple things like where they parked the car or which word they were trying to say. This can make respite care or placement in an elderly home necessary for the person’s safety and well-being.
Dementia can also affect long-term memory, leading seniors with dementia unable to store information or retrieve it when it needs to be recalled. A common example is that someone with dementia may know that their family member is connected to them in some way but not remember that the person is their son or daughter.
Dementia does such damage to the connected memories of the seniors affected by it. Therefore, it’s important to select activities that strengthen these areas. Keep reading for connection building activities for seniors who have dementia.
Activity #1: Create a Memory Book
The effects of dementia can cause seniors to return to their long-term memories from childhood or their early years. This could lead them to forget all about the near present. To help them connect, you can assist them in making a memory book. This book can be used to tell their life story. It can include things like their family members, accomplishments, and any prized memories.
The creation of this book is a great way to entertain seniors with dementia while they are receiving in-home care. It celebrates them as a person while also giving them something to do with their hands (decorating, coloring, etc.) This memory book can also be used as a safety blanket of sorts. For example, when your loved one has to enter an unfamiliar place like a hospital or elderly home.
Activity #2: Bring Back Forgotten Skills
Dementia can be a hard syndrome to understand because of the way that it picks and chooses what memories to take away and which to leave. Mary, who volunteered in an elderly home as a child, was surprised to see that although her favorite senior, Ruthie, couldn’t remember her name at times, she could play songs of the past on the piano by ear.
You too might be surprised to learn that your mother who used to knit thirty years ago or your father who once enjoyed painting might enjoy doing these activities still. They may not be able to function at the same skill level as they once did. However, it’s worth a shot to try activities they once enjoyed when looking to entertain seniors with dementia.
Activity #3: Playing with the Past
TV representations of those in an elderly home often show seniors caring for baby dolls or playing with other toys that are considered for ‘children only.’ This might seem a little silly, but actually, watching movies from the past, eating favorite foods from their youth, and fooling around with toys from their childhood can all be enjoyable activities for seniors dealing with dementia. It can help them feel a stronger sense of self. This is especially true when having to go into an elderly home or receiving in-home care from a stranger.
Not sure where to start? Take your parent’s year and add 5 to 10 years and then conduct a Google search of best-sellers during that time. Resale shops and eBay are good places to look for these items at discounted prices.
Once you’ve tried these options, you can also check out this additional list of activities to entertain seniors with dementia. And remember, that Cranberry Home Care is always available for a free consultation and a conversation about how we can provide an affordable and flexibly-tailored care package to put your mind at ease. For more information on dementia or the services Cranberry Home Care offers to families in the Southeastern Massachusetts area, visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com.