Continuing to be active and involved in meaningful pastimes is crucial to our mental health. We all need to feel both successful and needed. This feeling does not change because of a diagnosis of dementia, though it may require some creative intent to accomplish. In fact, stimulating and satisfying activities can lessen difficult symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease such as anger, anxiety, depression, agitation and even sundowning.
The secret is finding activities for people with Alzheimer’s that are ideal for the level of cognitive functioning. It’s a matter of finding out what leads to engagement without causing unnecessary irritation – something that may necessitate a bit of trial and error.
Test out these suggestions to see what works well for a senior you love with dementia.
- Step outside. Whenever weather permits, just getting out of the house can offer instant enjoyment and gratification. Pick a bouquet of flowers and then take a walk to bring them to a friend. Read a book aloud or reminisce through a photo album together on the deck. Set up a table with plants, soil, and pots, and create a small garden.
- Do laundry. There’s almost nothing like the fragrance of laundry that’s been hanging outside to dry! Provide the senior with freshly laundered shirts, sheets, hand towels, socks, etc. and request their assistance in folding.
- Build a memory box. A simple memory box can be crafted specific to the senior’s interests. For example, a retired carpenter’s box might have sandpaper, bolts, nuts, some PVC pipe, blocks of wood, etc. Someone who loves baking may appreciate looking through a box filled with a whisk, cups and spoons, recipe cards, etc. Once completed, reminisce with the older adult about what it was like working with those items. You may be surprised at the memories they stir.
- Create decorations. There are any number of hand-crafted decoration ideas when it comes to the holidays, but you don’t have to wait until December to start crafting. Thread big wooden beads or even dry tube-shaped pasta into jewelry for the grandkids. Create a scrapbook from pictures – or, embellish picture frames to display favorite photos in a prominent place in the home. The ideas are limitless – but the objective is to make something useful or meaningful.
- Help another in need. If the older individual has been passionate about a specific cause, such as taking care of the homeless or volunteering at the children’s hospital, brainstorm ways that they can still make a difference for that cause. Perhaps you could gather gloves and scarves for a local shelter, enlisting the senior’s help in sorting and packing them into bags to deliver. Or, make cards together and drop them off for hospitalized children.
Abby Senior Care, provider of home care in Highlands Ranch and the surrounding communities, is chock-full of additional creative strategies to help seniors with dementia continue to live purposeful, rewarding lives. Reach out to us at 303-699-8840 to schedule a no-cost in-home consultation for more information on how we can help someone you love.