Activities for people with Dementia and Alzheimers
Research is increasingly revealing that remaining active and continueing to learn new things as you age, can go some way to keeping the symptoms of memory related illnesses at bay.
As we know there is unfortunately no cure for conditions such as dementia, but keeping active does show promise, so in this article, we’re going to cover ways you can help your loved ones or patients who are suffering from dementia or alzheimers to take part in more activities.
Before we get started, here’s a bit of detail about dementia:
Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease. Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia. However, memory loss by itself does not mean you have dementia.
People with dementia have serious problems with two or more brain functions, such as memory and language. Although dementia is common in very elderly people, it is not part of normal aging.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia among older people. AD begins slowly. It first involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. No treatment can stop the disease. However, some drugs may help keep symptoms from getting worse for a limited.
If you need support looking after a family member with dementia of alzheimers then we might be able to help, find out more about our dementia services here.
How to detect Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Formal diagnosis of dementia and alzheimers is always required by a trained medical professional, but if you suspect a loved one may be suffering from dementia then there are some common symptoms to keep your eye open for.
People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there.
People with AD may have trouble remembering things that happened recently or names of people they know. In AD, over time, symptoms get worse. People may not recognize family members. They may have trouble speaking, reading or writing. They may forget how to brush their teeth or comb their hair. Later on, they may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home.
Eventually, they need total care. This can cause great stress for family members who must care for them. AD usually begins after age 60. The risk goes up as you get older. Your risk is also higher if a family member has had the disease.
As someone who takes care of people suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, what can we do for them? How do we make their lives as easy as possible? Or as close as possible to their previously normal life? What activities should we do to help them?
Activities that the care provider can do together with the patient include:
Or activities that calm oneself that may include walk in the park or a visit to the beach.
If a person with dementia can have regular time out in the daylight this will also help to set the body clock and establish a natural rhythm for the day. They are more likely to eat and sleep better, and this will also help reduce stress.
You can read more info about creating a relaxing environment for people with dementia here.
It is good to let people suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to listen to the songs they like to stabilize emotions.
A study shows that dementia and Alzheimer’s patients can recall memories and emotions, and have enhanced mental performance after singing classic hits and show tunes from movies and musicals — a breakthrough in understanding how music affects those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Puzzles, word games, video games, board games, are just few of the games that require cognitive thinking.
A new study suggests older adults who practice specific computer training exercises that test how fast they respond to visual stimuli could face a 29 percent lower chance of developing dementia, results deemed encouraging by experts even as more work is needed to confirm the link.
Constant simple conversation will let the patient think about different topics and expresses own opinion.
A study funded by The United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health Research showed that patients who had at least an hour of social activity per week — had lower rates of agitated behaviors as reported by their caregivers. They also had better quality of life as measured by a questionnaire and fewer neuropsychiatric symptoms.
This will remind them of the people and the things they love. This will also improve their creativity.
Many studies have recently shown the cognitive benefits associated with scrapbooking for seniors. These benefits can help reduce the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s and alleviate the depression associated with old age, making scrapbooking especially useful.
This will allow them to write especially significant things that happen to them during the day.
A study conducted by Weyerman et. al entitled Personal Journal Keeping and Linguistic Complexity Predict Late-Life Dementia Risk: The Cache County Journal Pilot Study showed that participants being a journal writer significantly predicted a 53% reduction in all-cause dementia risk.
Reading is a good brain exercise and this way, it helps improve memory.
In one study, researchers tested almost 300 older adults’ memory and thinking ability every year for 6 years, and the participants answered questionnaires about their reading and writing habits, from childhood to their current age.
After the participants’ deaths (at an average age of 89), the researchers examined their brains for evidence of the physical signs of dementia, which typically include lesions, plaques, and neural tangles, the brain abnormalities often associated with memory lapses.
Those people who reported that they read were protected against brain lesions and tangles and self-reported memory decline over the 6-year study (Castel, 2018).
Crafts for alzheimer’s patient
Arts and crafts. Letting them do what they love and good at improves cognitive function and promotes coordination. This may include:
- Flower arrangement
- Greeting card making
Researchers followed 256 people whose average age was 87 at the beginning of the study. Over four years, 121 participants developed mild cognitive impairment, a condition that means having thinking and memory problems, but problems that are not severe enough to affect daily life.
The people who engaged in artistic activities such as painting or drawing, in both middle age and when they were 85 and older, were 73 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than those who did not engage in artistic activities.
Memory care activities
If physical ability is not an issue, care provider may involve the patient with simple daily activities. Care provider may start it from the moment the patient wakes up until they go to bed. It is also important to assess and acknowledge the time bracket that the patient performs best. Allowing them to get involved with simple daily activities will promote sense of independence making them less likely to get stressed.
Setting a time table for the activities creates pattern or establishes routine that the patient can look forward to, therefore letting them be aware of the time of the day. Such activities include but not limited to: If physical ability is not an issue, care provider may involve the patient with simple daily activities.
Care provider may start it from the moment the patient wakes up until they go to bed. It is also important to assess and acknowledge the time bracket that the patient performs best.
Allowing them to get involved with simple daily activities will promote sense of independence making them less likely to get stressed. Setting a time table for the activities creates pattern or establishes routine that the patient can look forward to, therefore letting them be aware of the time of the day.
Such activities include but not limited to:·
Making the bed
Allow them to wash up and brush their teeth on their own
Let them make the decision on what to wear for the day
Putting on their clothes
Let them tie their shoes
Let them set the table
Involve them on weekly meal planning
Watering the plants in the garden
Helping in folding clothes
Separating whites and colored clothes for the laundry
Since we give direct care to our loved ones suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, it is important to learn as much as we can about them especially the activities that we can do for them daily to improve their quality of life.
Activity tips for Peterborough residents
Visit the Dementia Resource Centre
The Dementia Resource Centre in Peterborough is a fantastic local point of call. Run by the Alzheimer’s Society, there are a range of activities held on a weekly basis, which offer an opportunity for people with Dementia to socialise and have fun, whilst also providing some respite and companionship for carers. There’s something to suit every taste: typical group sessions include chair yoga, ‘knit & knatter’, current affairs and mens or ladies activity groups.
Sessions run at this centre are ideal for those acclimatising to life with Dementia or as a carer, as they are designed to be accessible for all. Some sessions run for a set period of weeks, so it’s worth making enquiries to find out what’s available for you to join.
Singing for the Brain
Singing for the Brain is also run by the Dementia Resource Centre, but deserves a special mention on its own because singing has been proven to have such a positive effect on people with Dementia and their carers. These sessions begin with gentle movement activities, followed by informal singing sessions that are enjoyable and stimulating for people with Dementia. They offer a relaxed environment in which to share an activity together and meet like-minded people.
Dementia Cafés are a space to relax and unwind, gather support and information for living with Dementia and meet people in the same situation. There are many regular meetings dotted across Peterborough and the surrounding area, so you’re sure to find one close to you. You can find your nearest Dementia Café and other social groups through this search.
Hobbies and at Home Activities
Even if your loved one isn’t able to continue enjoying a past hobby, there are ways to help them connect with the things they love. A keen sewer may enjoy painting or other crafting, while culinary extraordinaires might still enjoy trying a new recipe with the help of a family member. These kinds of activities are easier for people with Dementia to participate in than passive pastimes like reading or watching television. Look at what’s on offer in your local area – there may be a Dementia-friendly group that’s linked to a past favourite hobby, such as the gardening group at the Dementia Resource Centre.
Many people with Dementia and their carers find it enjoyable to share memories together, such as by scrapbooking or visiting favourite destinations. In all these activities, take your cues from your loved one. If an activity they used to enjoy doesn’t bring them pleasure, don’t force it, but explore other ways to share an experience together.
Take Gentle Exercise
Exercise is key to positive physical and emotional health, and can be enjoyed at any level. Peterborough’s Dementia Resource Centre offers accessible, fun sessions, aptly named ‘Oomph!’, that help people with Dementia stay active and socialise.
Of course, the great outdoors is available at any time. Alongside walks in your local area, Peterborough and its surroundings have many sights of natural beauty to offer the community. Ferry Meadows Country Park is an area of outstanding beauty not far from your front door.
Have an Adventure
If you’d like to take a trip with your loved one, but are worried about places being equipped to care for someone with Dementia, help is at hand. Dementia Adventure is a charity that helps carers and their loved ones get out in nature. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with your family in new ways, and help your loved one enjoy a new, fulfilling experience.
Creating a structured timetable for your day helps ensure loved ones are given the opportunity to take part in motivating activities, and can make life easier for you as carer. Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website for example plans and tips on structuring a routine that works for you and your loved one.
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