Often times, when a person has dementia we focus on the abilities that have been lost. This is so easy to do as we see our loved one decline, sometimes rapidly. It is heartbreaking and scary to watch. However, any activity that you can engage a person with dementia in will greatly improve their quality of life. While it may not slow down the progression of the disease, they will find happiness, fun, and perhaps even spark past memories through the activity. Engaging people with dementia through fun and stimulating activities allows them to have an active part in their life, despite their disease.
AARP describes several activities that can be engaging, while still taking into account any limitations. There are numerous benefits to having them participate. Lessening depression and agitation is just one aspect that can be noticed. As important, maintaining motor skills can result from these activities. Finally, giving the person a sense of ownership and independence through their participation is so important to their sense of well-being.
Deciding what activities are simple, safe, and failure free are all important considerations. Try taking activities they loved in the past and modifying them a little. If they enjoyed knitting, for example, try giving them a simpler pattern. Or maybe they liked baking. Use a box of cookie mix instead of having them measure every ingredient.
It can be hard to remember that there really are a large variety of things that people with dementia are able to do. Exercise, games, music, and art are only a few categories that can be tried. If the dementia is advanced, even simple sensory activities can be engaging and calming. Combing their hair or giving a manicure can be stimulating yet requires little effort on their part. Sometimes even reminiscing about the past is enough.
The biggest thing to remember with a person with dementia is they are indeed a person with dementia. Try focusing on what they can do. Evaluate the unique abilities and needs of the individual and go from there. Aging life care managers at Arizona Elder Care can also help you decide what would be safe and appropriate for your loved one. There are always ways to enjoy time with your loved one, regardless of a dementia diagnosis. While it may take some planning and creativity, the benefits will be clear for all involved.