If you have an aging family member who is living with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, it’s important to engage them in as many mentally stimulating activities as possible. This is not only to delay the progression of disease, but to maximize your loved one’s daily quality of life.
No matter what stage of disease your loved one is experiencing, the highest possible quality of life can and should be provided. To do this, a caregiver needs to focus on what a person with diminished mental capacity can do, rather than what they can no longer do.
There are memory care activities that are accessible to people suffering from cognitive decline at every stage. This blog will explain why they help, and give you many activity options.
How Do Stimulating Activities Help People Living With Dementia?
Research shows that when people keep their mind’s active, their cognitive skills are less likely to decline. This could be because the mind is able to improve with exercise, just like other parts of the body. The reasons for this are not entirely understood because the science is relatively new, but so far the research findings are clear that mental stimulation improves cognition.
This is good news for anyone who is concerned about the possibility of cognitive decline associated with aging. Engaging in activities that are both enjoyable and mentally stimulating serve the dual purpose of keeping the brain active while also providing fun activities to participate in throughout the day.
Everyone wants to feel the pleasure of engaging in activities they enjoy, to emotionally connect with people they care about, and to earn the sense of pride that comes with accomplishment. With this in mind, activities should be meaningful to your loved one whenever possible, and not just be time-filling tasks.
Which Memory Care Activities Are Best for Your Loved One?
Talk to your family member about activities they enjoy. Talk to others who have known them for many years. Consider what you know about them, where they have put their energy in the past, both personally and professionally. Also, suggest new activities and gauge their enjoyment of them. Be ready to modify, adapt, and try something else.
Some activities seniors with dementia may enjoy include:
- Cooking together. Cooking and baking can bring a lot of joy, satisfaction and happy memories. Just be mindful of safety and keep recipes appropriately simple.
- Tend a garden. If this has been a hobby in the past, it can still be immensely rewarding to help your loved one get their hands dirty and make things grow.
- Read books. It’s likely your loved one has a few favorite stories, or even favorite copies of books in a collection. Revisiting these books can be entertaining, stimulating and nostalgic.
- Look at photo albums. There’s no better way to stimulate memories than gazing at favorite people and places from their past. This is also a great reason to have conversations, ask questions and share memories together.
- Play music. It’s been shown that music stimulates multiple parts of the brain at once, from memory to emotion to problem solving. It’s also a great reason to get some exercise, to move, dance, sing along and have some fun.
- Do arts and crafts. Especially if there’s a hobby from their past like sewing, painting or sculpting, the mental challenge, the fine motor skills, the memory of past enjoyment and the satisfaction of accomplishment are all great reasons to partake.
- Play board games, card games and puzzles. These are simply effective ways to stimulate their mind while providing an activity they enjoy and a chance to either work alone or engage with other people.
Check out this list of 50 Activities for a person with dementia from the Alzheimer’s Association.
Modifying Activities for Disease Progression
Like anyone else, a person with dementia needs to feel successful to be happy, so it’s important that memory care activities are no-fail activities. Be prepared to modify them as a person’s abilities change to keep them from getting frustrated, confused or depressed with an activity that would otherwise bring them joy.
For example, if your loved one enjoys gardening but is now having trouble with the physical demands, you can visit a botanical garden, or take over the gardening yourself and have them view and talk and enjoy what grows. If cooking has become too complicated or dangerous, simply being in the kitchen while you cook can offer sensory stimulation. If reading has become too difficult, then you can read to them. Even an activity like knitting or woodworking can be modified to having them roll yarn or stack wood blocks as their symptoms of dementia become more advanced.
Memory Care Communities Are The Best Answer
You want to help your family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease to be as content as possible, and to spend their days enjoying life. But this takes an increasing amount of dedication and time to manage memory care activities, and the emotional toll this takes on a caregiver is well known to be severe.
A qualified care specialist or community is a solution that can work for your loved one at any and every stage of Alzheimer’s and dementia. They are specially trained to work with people living with cognitive decline, they have tools and supplies ready and available, and they know how to keep your loved one safe. All while freeing you to participate in a way you enjoy, while allowing you to live your life and focus on your own needs for happiness and health. It’s what your loved one would want.
Memory Care at Garden Plaza
At Garden Plaza in Florissant, Missouri, seniors with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can receive expert care that focuses on mental, physical and spiritual health and well-being. Our specially trained staff develop memory care activities catered to individual needs and always focus on your loved one’s quality of life and dignity.
Contact us to learn more about our memory care programs, and how we can help your loved one continue to thrive.