As a caregiver, it can be a real relief to stumble upon an activity that your patient loves. Sometimes, it’s something that they used to love doing – but often, you can introduce new kinds of fun that they just never tried before. If you can overcome that initial resistance to change that can come up more often than we’d like, you may just instill in them a new kind of passion for life. Feel free to take suggestions from family members and friends – but if you’re looking for inspiration, here are some ideas.
Activities to Boost Cognitive Skills
Puzzles are great for helping them recognize patterns. Simple games, whether on the tabletop or an iPad, can also provide a lot of stimulation. Alternatively, try checking out some books at the library. Reading is great for focusing the mind, or just keeping one distracted – and photography books can be particularly useful, such as city guides, dogs and cats, or pertaining to their favorite hobbies.
Physical Activities to Boost Health
Take your patient by the arm and go for a walk in the park. Do Tai Chi or other exercises to get arms and legs moving and blood flowing. Why not take in an afternoon dance class, which is a great social activity as well. It’s amazing to see seniors who may seem distant most of the time open up and enjoy life as they dance a jig to some old-time jazz.
Art can help us communicate our thoughts and feelings, sometimes more deeply and honestly than mere words. Many senior centers and recreation hubs feature activities like drawing, painting or sculpting in clay. These are not just fun outlets, but also excellent sources for creating new memories, as the patient associates the art with the day they made it. For some, fine arts of making music with instruments or singing in a choir can give them a sense of joy that is hard to replicate in other kinds of activities – particularly if music was a big part of their lives before they required live-at-home dementia care.
Visit with family can be the highlight of any day. Be careful to not have too many people around at once, as that can be overwhelming; instead, stagger the visits so that they can spend quality time one-on-one. If family is distant, there are still opportunities to meet with friends enjoying communal activities at senior facilities and community centers. Check out the schedule of activities nearby!
Self-Esteem Building Activities
One of the most damaging aspects of dementia is a feeling of losing control. In this case, patients doing chores that they used to regularly do can be a big boost to their sense of self. They can feel like they are useful and taking care of their real responsibilities. Simple actions like setting the table, light laundry folding, watering the plants or feeding the cat are great for this.
Got more ideas for caregivers to try with their patients? Send in your suggestions and we can feature them on Facebook!