Remaining active and involved in meaningful interests is vital for our mental health. We all want to feel both successful and needed. This feeling does not disappear because of a diagnosis of dementia, although it might require some creativity to achieve. In fact, engaging and rewarding activities can lessen stressful symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease such as depression, agitation, anxiety, anger as well as sundowning.
The key is choosing activities that are right for the person’s level of cognitive functioning. It is a matter of identifying what invokes engagement without creating undue irritation – something that might require a bit of experimenting.
Try out these suggestions to see what works for a senior you love with dementia.
- Get outside. Whenever weather permits, simply being out of the house can provide immediate enjoyment and gratification. Pick some flowers and then go for a walk to bring them to a friend. Read a book aloud or reminisce through a photo album together on the porch. Put up a table with potting soil, containers, seedlings and succulents, and create a small garden.
- Fold laundry. There’s nothing like the scent of clean laundry that’s been hanging outside to dry! Give the senior some freshly laundered shirts, washcloths, hand towels, socks, etc. and request their assistance in folding.
- Construct a memory box. A simple memory box can be made specific to the senior’s interests. For instance, a retired carpenter’s box might have nuts, bolts, pieces of PVC pipe, blocks of wood, sandpaper, etc. Someone who loves baking may enjoy looking through a box filled with a whisk, cups and spoons, recipe cards, etc. When completed, reminisce with the older adult about what it was like working with those items. You may be amazed at the memories they invoke.
- Create decorations. There are a variety of hand-crafted decoration ideas with regard to the holidays, but you do not need to wait until December to start crafting. Thread large wooden beads or even dry penne pasta into jewelry for the grandkids. Put together a scrapbook from photographs – or, adorn picture frames to display favorite photos in a prominent place in the home. The ideas are unlimited – but the purpose is to produce something useful or meaningful.
- Help someone in need. If the older adult is passionate about a certain cause, such as assisting the homeless or volunteering at the children’s hospital, think of ways that they can continue to have an impact in that area. Maybe you could gather coats for a local shelter, enlisting the senior’s assistance with sorting and packing them into bags to deliver. Or, make cards together and drop them off for hospitalized children.
Morning Glory Home Care’s experts in Highland, IL senior care are loaded with additional fun and engaging activities for seniors with dementia that allow them to continue to live purposeful, fulfilling lives. Call us at 618-667-8400 to schedule a cost-free in-home assessment to learn more about how our home care services can help someone you love. Visit our Service Area for a full list of the communities we serve.