Active engagement is a great help for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Activities can help memory care patients release frustration and build confidence, while also fostering a sense of connection with others and providing an outlet for self-expression. But as our loved ones lose memories or motor skills, we can become intimidated by the challenge of finding an activity they can enjoy.
We’ve listed some activities below that are well suited for patients in various stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia. While some activities can trigger memories or help maintain certain skills, it’s important to focus on simply helping to encourage a sense of happiness and well-being. The key is to choose activities that are simple and failure free.
Pet therapy is a wonderful way to combat feelings of isolation or loneliness. While it’s common to think of a dog, pet therapy can involve birds, rabbits, and even pigs. As patients’ memories begin to fade, interactions with others can induce anxiety and stress as they worry over whether they’re going to forget someone or something. This anxiety and stress is nowhere to be found with a therapy pet. Whether the patient pets the animals, feeds it, plays with it, or simply sits with the animal, they can enjoy the connection without any anxiety or stress. Many organizations provide pet therapy visits to nursing homes and memory care facilities.
Bingo is a great game for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s easy to play and understand, making it appropriate for most stages of dementia. The game requires patients to distinguish and match shapes and colors, which is beneficial for maintaining cognitive skills. To further boost these cognitive benefits, remember that the game can be played with more than just numbers or letters. Animals, food, and other items can be used. The game also doesn’t need a large group. It can be played with groups as small as two or three, or even one-on-one with your loved one. Because the game is simple for children to learn and play, we’ve seen people create wonderful moments of connection and joy by having young children play with older loved ones.
Gardening is an invigorating activity for memory care patients, especially those who have gardened in the past. Simple, repetitive tasks like raking provide memory care patients with exercise, and a feeling of contributing and accomplishing something. Try growing fragrant herbs to stimulate the senses and potentially trigger memories.
Walking and Other Exercise
There’s really no time in our lives when it’s not a good idea to go for a walk. Exercise helps to alleviate stress, boost happiness, maintain a healthy appetite, and promote better sleep. Walking provides a quick and easy way to get up and get active.
Listening to Music
Like exercise, music is something beneficial to just about everyone. Listening to music provides stimulation, evokes emotions, and in some cases, can even trigger past memories. Try to find music that your loved one listened to when they were young. If they like to dance, see if you can get them up and moving. If not, they’ll likely enjoy the site of family and friends dancing around them.
Not every activity on this list will be a hit with every memory care patient. The key is to have multiple activities ready. That way, if your loved one doesn’t connect with one activity, there’s another one waiting. Through trial and error, you can find a world of activities that your loved one enjoys. Take note and repeat favorites. Even if your loved one forgets the last time you performed an activity, they may retain some element of the process instinctively.
If your loved one’s memory issues are progressing to the point where you’re considering memory care, we’ve put together some reading on whether it’s time for a memory care facility. Feel free to contact The Woodleigh of Baton Rouge at 225-272-1401 with any questions.