Stimulating Activities for Dementia
If you, or someone you care for, is facing a diagnosis of dementia, it can be life-changing. But it doesn’t mean you have to stop doing the things that you enjoy. Keeping a routine with pleasurable activities can be a great way to keep your mind active and improve wellbeing and sharing activities with family and friends can help you to enjoy quality time together.
We’ve put together a short list of some simple, but stimulating activities that you may enjoy, as well as information about where you may be able to do them.
Arts and Craft
Creative activities can provide a lot of stimulation for people living with dementia. Knitting or embroidery can help to keep hands nimble, and the end results can give a huge sense of satisfaction. If the person has knitted or sewn their entire lives, you may find that they can retain these skills for a long time, and their dexterity with a pair of needles may just surprise you.
Painting can be a good way of relaxing the mind – even if you haven’t painted a picture since your school days, picking up a paintbrush and creating a ‘work of art’ can be very satisfying. And of course, the best thing about art is that it’s very individual. You don’t need to produce a masterpiece to enjoy being creative.
Listening to music
Music, whether listening, singing or playing, is an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone right through to the later stages of dementia.
Music therapy is often used in dementia support - listening to your favourite music can provide great comfort and can often trigger memories from childhood and younger days.
Even those with moderate to severe dementia can often still sing along to their favourite songs. And if the person used to play the piano or another musical instrument, this may also be a skill that they retain.
Any kind of activity that helps to keep the mind active is beneficial to those living with dementia. If you enjoy doing puzzles alone why not try doing crossword puzzles, word searches or jigsaws. You can buy puzzle books from many retailers or if you are tech-savvy and have use of a tablet or smartphone, you can download puzzle apps to keep you busy.
Games can also be a good way of spending time with other people too. You could play a board game together or even join others in the community to play a round of bingo.
We know that people living with dementia have a tendency to forget recent events, so reminiscing about the past can be a good way of communication and is sometimes the only way that the person can connect with their own identity.
Why not start a conversation about the good old days or if you have access to old photo albums, you could look through these together. This may prompt them to share distant, but often detailed memories which can offer a fascinating insight into a person’s past.
Try not to test the person’s memory by asking ‘Do you remember….?’
Whilst they may be able to tell you in detail about certain things, they may become frustrated if they can’t quite remember certain people or events. Just let them lead the conversation as much as possible.
If you can get exercise, in any form, this is not only good for your physical health but it can also have great benefits on your emotional wellbeing. It can also be a great way to engage with others as exercise is usually more fun if other people are taking part too.
Often, leisure centres will run sessions that are specifically designed for those living with dementia.
Dementia-friendly swimming sessions are held regularly at Mold Leisure Centre - email [email protected] for more information.
Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous – chair exercises that involve gentle movements are great for older people. Love to Move is an exercise programme, devised for those living with dementia and other memory problems. Gentle movements to music boost cognitive function and help to keep both the brain and body healthy.
Regular Love to Move sessions takes place at the Memory Lane Café at St Giles Church, Wrexham.