Dementia-Friendly Activities to Enjoy With Your Loved OnePosted on: 24/02/2023
After a diagnosis of dementia, it’s quite common for the person who has been diagnosed to become withdrawn from social interactions.
They may also be reluctant to carry on with hobbies or other activities they enjoy, as they worry about the effects their dementia will have on their ability to do those activities.
However, it’s really important to encourage them to keep active and enjoying life.
First, here are a few helpful tips when it comes to choosing activities:
- Be mindful of their abilities. As their dementia progresses, you may need to look at different activities that match their ability along the different stages of the dementia journey.
- Focus on what they can do. Don’t point out what they can no longer do, such as skills they may have lost, rather look at what they can do and what activities they will be able to partake in and enjoy.
- Try to avoid overwhelming activities. Some activities, particularly social activities, may involve a large group of people or may be in an overstimulating environment. Be mindful when arranging these types of activities that your loved one may become overwhelmed.
With those in mind, here are some different dementia-friendly activities that you might like to consider for your loved one.
Dementia-friendly physical activities
Aside from being enjoyable, research from the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation has shown that physical exercise that increases the heart rate may help support brain health.
So, here are some ideas for physical activities that you could do with your loved one:
- Although a simple one, a gentle walk in the park with your loved one is a great sensory experience that will keep them physically active and enable them to get some fresh air.
- Swimming or other water activities. If your loved one enjoys a dip in the pool, swimming or other water activities such as water aerobics could be a great activity for them to continue with.
- Whether it’s in their garden, an allotment, caring for house plants or creating a simple window box, encourage your loved one to tend and care for nature. Flower arranging might also be of interest to them, with all the different colours and scents that flowers can offer.
- If your loved one’s mobility is good, dancing is a great feel-good activity that they can take part in. It could even just be dancing around the living room together, but it will help them to keep active as well as putting a smile on their face.
- Tai Chi. This is not only great for movement and coordination, but it’s also good for the mind. Often, those living with dementia are at greater risk of falling. Tai Chi can help improve strength and balance, thus reducing the risk of falling over.
Dementia-friendly mental activities
Encouraging your loved one to keep their mind active can not only help to boost their cognitive function, but it can also boost their mood, confidence and help to improve their memory.
Here are a few ideas for mental activities that you could do with your loved one:
- Crosswords and word searches. This is a great activity that your loved one could do in the earlier stages of the dementia journey. It can help with problem-solving skills and memory.
- Jigsaw puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles are so versatile, with larger and smaller number puzzles and simple or more complicated images. This makes it an activity that you can do with your loved one throughout their journey, adapting the puzzles that you choose as their dementia progresses.
- Painting, drawing, arts and crafts. Encourage your loved one to be creative and use their imagination. These activities will also help to maintain or even improve your loved one’s dexterity.
- Singing or listening to music. Music is often linked to various memories, which makes it a great mental activity for your loved one. Often, just like dancing, singing is also a feel-good activity that can help to put a smile on your loved one’s face. The Alzheimer’s Society also runs fun and friendly sessions called Singing for the Brain. You can find out more about how to get involved by clicking here.
Frequent socialisation is important to reduce the risk of your loved one becoming isolated, but it can also help to keep their brain engaged and improve their self-esteem.
Here are some social activities that you could do with your loved one:
- If your loved one has always enjoyed visiting Bingo, encourage them to continue doing it. It’s a great way for them to get out and about, but it’s also great for exercising their mind too.
- Memory or dementia café. Attending a drop-in memory or dementia café will allow your loved one to meet others who are also living with dementia. It’s a great way to encourage them to share their own experience and also learn about the experience of others who are also on the dementia journey.
- Book club. If your loved one enjoys reading, encourage them to attend a book club. This will give them a social activity to enjoy and give them a setting in which they can discuss what they’ve read, which will also help to engage their brain and support cognitive function.
- Dementia Adventure. If your loved one loves to travel and enjoys the outdoors, you might like to take a look at Dementia Adventure. They are a charity that “enables people living with dementia to get outdoors, connect with nature, themselves and their community, and keep a sense of adventure in their lives.” Click here to find out more about them.
These are just some ideas and perhaps there are activities that you do with your loved one that you think others could benefit from, too?
We would love to hear what they are – simply drop an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.