Caring for a loved one with memory loss can be difficult. As their memory declines, patients often begin to withdraw from their daily routine. They might stop participating in activities they once enjoyed, and they may pull away from family and friends. While there is no cure for dementia, there is endless evidence that suggests keeping your loved one engaged in their daily life and with their surrounding community can improve their happiness and quality of life. Below we’ve compiled a list of activities to help with dementia, which you can use to support your loved one and perhaps even improve your relationship.
Activities to Help with Dementia
1. Bake or Cook
One of the tasks that often gets discarded when patients’ dementia worsens is cooking. Recipes that were once memorized suddenly seem taxing and difficult. But those same recipes can evoke deep-seeded and happy memories. So the next time you visit your loved one, pull out one of their favorite recipes and have them help you in the kitchen. If they seem overwhelmed by the instructions, keep their role in the kitchen minimal but engage them nevertheless.
2. Pick a Craft Project
Simple craft projects can be a fun and interactive way to pass time. You could draw, paint, knit, make holiday decorations, or perhaps even create a pinecone bird feeder like this one by Martha Stewart.
Puzzles aren’t just fun and challenging – they’re also relaxing! Plus, you probably already have a puzzle that you’ve been meaning to try stored away in a closet. Pour the pieces onto a table or transferable board and keep the puzzle out until it’s finished. Leaving it out will encourage your loved one to work on it whenever a spare moment arises.
4. Play Music
Music can be calming and can help stir memories. Pick a style of music your loved one especially enjoys, and hit play. If you can, gather some friends together to listen to music over iced tea or lemonade; community and interaction can be a big mood boost for those with dementia. But even just listening to music can improve health. An article in Time Magazine reported, “Studies have shown that music can buoy your mood and fend off depression. It can also improve blood flow in ways similar to statins, lower your levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol, and ease pain.”
5. Tend a Garden
Spending time outdoors and enjoying the sunlight is an easy way to improve your mood. And if you’re looking for activities to help with dementia, gardening is a simple but effective way to engage your loved one. Not only does it provide an excuse to enjoy some fresh air, but it’s also a low-impact exercise with great rewards.
6. Go to a Museum or Garden
Look for attractions around your community that offer activities to help with dementia by providing mental stimulation and relaxation. One option is to go to a nearby museum or botanical garden. If your loved one is able to walk safely, this can provide a good form of exercise. It can also stimulate conversation and provide them with new memories and experiences to savor.
7. Look Through Family Photo Albums
Looking through family photos can be a heartfelt exercise, but be sure to pay close attention to your loved one. If the photos or memories start to cause them frustration or pain (especially if they can’t recall that memory or don’t recognize the people in the photos), change activities. But if they enjoy reminiscing, encourage them to talk about their life, their loved ones, and the trips and milestones they experienced.
8. Read Together
While some people suffering from dementia lose the ability to follow the plots of books, they often still enjoy being read to. It might simply be the sound of another voice that they find relaxing. If this is an activity your loved one enjoys, encourage them to join you at the library so they can help pick out the next book. You could then head to a park to read.
If you’re looking for more tips on activities to help with dementia or have a loved one in need of care, contact the Crossings at Riverview. Our welcoming community provides peace of mind for families and their loved ones by offering assisted living, respite care, and memory care services. Tour our community, meet our friendly staff, and see our amenities first-hand. Our beautiful facility sits on 12 acres overlooking the Alafia River. That setting provides a relaxing atmosphere, and our talented team is committed to cultivating a welcoming and vibrant community. Our goal is to make our community feel like home for all of our residents. To schedule a tour, call 813-296-6165 or contact us online. We look forward to meeting you!