Staying active and involved in meaningful interests and activities is vital for our mental health. All of us need to feel both successful and needed. This feeling does not go away because of a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, although it might require some creative intent to accomplish. As a matter of fact, engaging and worthwhile activities can lessen difficult symptoms of dementia such as anger, anxiety, depression, agitation and also sundowning.
The key is discovering activities that are appropriate for the person’s level of cognitive functioning. It is all about establishing what invokes engagement without causing unnecessary aggravation – something that may require a bit of trial and error.
Experiment with these Alzheimer’s activities to see what works well for a senior you love with dementia.
- Step outside. Whenever the weather allows, simply being outside can offer instant joy. Pick some flowers and then take a stroll to deliver them to a friend. Read a book out loud or reminisce through a photo album together on the front porch. Set up a table with potting soil, containers, seedlings and succulents, and make a small container garden.
- Do laundry. There is nothing like the smell of laundry that’s been hanging outside to dry! Offer the older adult some freshly laundered wash cloths, pillowcases, towels, etc. and ask for their assistance in folding.
- Construct a memory box. A simple memory box can be created specific to the senior’s interests. For example, a retired carpenter’s box might contain nuts, bolts, pieces of PVC pipe, blocks of wood, sandpaper, etc. Somebody who enjoys baking may like looking through a box containing a whisk, cups and spoons, recipe cards, etc. Once completed, reminisce with the senior about what it was like working with those items. You may well be surprised at the memories they invoke.
- Make decorations. There are any number of handmade decoration ideas for the holidays, but you don’t need to hold off until December to get crafty. String large wooden beads or even dry penne pasta into necklaces or bracelets for the grandkids. Create a scrapbook from photos – or, adorn picture frames to display favorite images in a prominent place in the home. The ideas are endless – but the goal is to make something useful or meaningful.
- Help someone who needs it. If the senior has been 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 make a difference in that area. Maybe you could gather gloves and scarves for a local shelter, enlisting the senior’s assistance with sorting and packing them into bags to deliver. Or, select toys together and drop them off for children in the hospital.
Are you caring for older parents with dementia? Grace Home Care’s senior care experts in Topeka, KS have lots of creative ideas to help people with dementia continue to live meaningful, rewarding lives. Contact us at 785-286-2273 to schedule a free in-home consultation for more information on how we can help a senior you love.