Activities for seniors with dementia
Dementia is a terrible condition that affects numerous people. Unfortunately, it is a progressive condition, worsening over time. While there is no cure yet, it is possible to slow its progression (although this may not be possible for all patients).
However, there are several exercises and activities you can do when caring for a senior with dementia. Helping them engage in satisfying and fail-safe activities can have many positive benefits for them.
Exercises for dementia patients
We all know that exercise is good for your physical health and general well-being. Studies have found that regular exercise is the best way to reduce the risk of developing dementia. However, those who have dementia already can still benefit from exercise. Research shows that doing regular aerobic exercise can improve your memory and reduce the progression of dementia.
When giving care to dementia patients, the exercise you choose to do with them will vary based on their age and physical condition.
Walking is an easy exercise to start off with. Whether you make a loop around the house or garden or take a stroll around the neighbourhood, it’ll help to get their body moving.
Easy strength exercises
Strengthening exercises such as sit-to-stand, balancing in a standing position or sitting unsupported for a couple of minutes a day are all simple things you can do to help a dementia patient strengthen their muscles.
Tai Chi is a more moderate form of exercise, yet it’s still slow enough for elderly individuals to do. It provides several benefits such as strengthening muscles, increasing endurance and enhancing flexibility. It also has many brain-related benefits for dementia patients, such as improving cognitive functions.
Gardening is another great activity for seniors with dementia. Not only does it help work up a slight sweat, but gardening also improves hand-eye coordination and increases your body’s serotonin levels and helps dementia patients feel like they’ve achieved something.
For a more advanced and intensive exercise, seniors with dementia can try out a dancing class. It’s best to lead the dances here so that they don’t have to worry about remembering a routine themselves. And, by putting on their favourite music, it’ll seem like more of a fun activity than an exercise routine.
Engaging activities for seniors with dementia
When planning activities for dementia patients, the things you choose to do should aim to help them remember their life, aid them in expressing themselves, help them feel more engaged with life, create emotional connections with others and help make them feel like they are being productive.
Getting dementia patients involved in engaging activities like the ones below will provide them with mental stimulation and a host of other benefits, such as reduced levels of depression or anxiety.
For individuals with early to mid-stage dementia, crossword puzzles are an engaging activity that can help with their problem-solving abilities. Additionally, doing crossword puzzles will reduce their stress levels, and every time they complete a puzzle, they’ll get an added confidence boost.
Not only is this a fun game to play, but it can also be easily adapted for seniors with dementia. Playing this game will help stimulate their memory and thought process.
Make a memory box
While dementia patients struggle with their short term memory, their long term memory tends to be quite sound. Therefore, having seniors bring together items from their early days will help them to reminisce, bringing back wonderful memories which they may like to share with you.
Build a puzzle
For seniors with dementia, building a jigsaw puzzle is a great way to stimulate their brains while also providing a great opportunity for them to socialise and connect with other elderly individuals or caregivers.
Read a book
Those in the early stages of dementia will still have a high level of cognitive functioning and be able to read books on their own. If you’re caring for an elderly person who can’t do this on their own anymore, reading to them can be just as enjoyable.
Allowing seniors with dementia to unleash their creativity is a relaxing yet stimulating activity. For those with a high level of dexterity, painting and drawing are great options as it allows them to enter a zone of calm while working the creative side of their brain. However, for those with limited dexterity, you could cut out pictures from magazines or colourful shapes and have them arrange the images in a colourful collage.