As older adults enter their later years, it is increasingly likely that they will start going through the stages of dementia. Dementia patients struggle with memory and other cognitive functions, and while your loved one might not be able to recover, they can experience a higher quality of life through different forms of dementia care activities.
Senior living facilities often provide these kinds of activities for people with dementia. But there are lots of activities they can perform on their own — or with you — that can help them keep their minds in motion.
Memory Care for People With Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease
One of the most important things you can do for your loved one who is experiencing dementia is to help them feel like they are in control. Memory loss and other symptoms of cognitive decline can leave a person feeling powerless. Memory care activities that allow your family member to demonstrate mastery over even small tasks can boost their confidence and self-esteem, which can in turn have positive benefits of their own.
Memory Care Activities
Memory games, small tasks that call for the use of motor skills, visually stimulating activities, and community-based care activities are all great ways to keep your loved one engaged. And while there are countless activities that might fit the bill here, it is important to keep them within what seniors with dementia can reasonably be expected to do well.
Be mindful of safety issues, too. Every person's condition is different, so take care to accommodate for how they experience their specific symptoms. For example, if your loved one is prone to putting things in their mouth, memory care activities will need to be made from items that cannot be easily swallowed. Similarly, some items that are safe for younger adults might need to be adapted for use by seniors with dementia — like needles for cross-stitching.
It is also worth noting that memory care activities are less about the outcome and more about the process. Encourage your loved one to simply enjoy the present moment with their task. Setting concrete goals can lead to frustration, disappointment, and anger if they are not met. This undermines the purpose of memory care activities — letting people with dementia reclaim feeling of control over their lives.
Here are some of the best memory care activities for people with dementia.
Knitting is a wonderful activity for seniors with dementia. Not only is it tactile, but it is also repetitive and mindful. Knitting keeps the mind engaged for longer periods of time without overstimulating. Be sure to use yarns and needles that are sized appropriately for your loved one, however. Smaller gauges can be difficult to use and can lead to unnecessary frustration.
Singing and Listening to Music
Music can be very beneficial as well. Old songs can remind them of their past, and learning new songs can connect them to the wider world of today. Singing is an activity that can help older adults store memories, and it can also be a community activity when performed alongside friends and family members. As dementia progresses, people with dementia might eventually prefer to simply listen.
There are all kinds of art projects that can be incorporated into memory care. From butcher paper to pattern blocks to watercolor paints on canvas, visual expression provides an outlet for creativity, allowing your loved one to lose themselves in the process of a positively stimulating activity.
Collages are another form of creative expression, but they can be made more personalized to your loved one by selecting images from magazines they love — or even by giving them copies of family photos that they can incorporate into their art. If your loved one is accident prone, consider either supervising the cut-out process or cut out the images yourself.
While it might not seem like the most fun activity on its face, folding laundry can be a very satisfying activity for a person with dementia. Not only is it simple and repetitive, but it also helps your loved one feel like they are contributing to the family. Doing it on their own and for their own laundry can also help to instill valuable feelings of independence.
Tie and Untie Knots
Tying and untying knots is another tactile memory care activity to provide your loved one with sensory stimulation. There are hundreds of different knots to learn — and each of them has its own set of applications. Knots are rich with history, too, and older adults can find joy in studying all the different ways various knots have been used over time. They can even make up their own knots! And when they're done, untying them can be every bit as satisfying as tying them.
Puzzles are timeless activities that are great for older adults. They keep the mind trained on finding each piece and putting it in its place. Just be sure to select puzzles at the appropriate difficulty level — none of those gradient puzzles, circular puzzles, or single-color puzzles that have become popular in recent years.
Make a Memory Box
For keeping a connection with the past, memory boxes are excellent for people with dementia. It is also a great activity to work on as a family. Filling the box with items from your loved one's career, an old house or city where they lived, or from a major event in their life can provide touchstones to different times. They can share stories and memories with you and your family members, and when the box is finished, they can return to it anytime they like.
Memory care activities for people with dementia or Alzheimer's disease can help keep the mind engaged with sensory stimulation. Whether the activities are creative, practical, or designed to keep memories alive, your loved one can benefit from the time spent working with different tasks. This can not only improve their sense of independence, confidence, and self-esteem, but it can also improve their overall quality of life.
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of dementia, our team is ready to help. At Keystone Health, we provide the greater Boise area with the best in home health care services. Reach out today to learn more about becoming a patient.