Dementia can be a devastating condition for both patients and their loved ones. Individuals’ ability to engage in favourite hobbies or even perform daily tasks becomes more difficult as cognitive abilities deteriorate. There are many activities that can help stimulate the senses, encourage reminiscence, and provide comfort to someone suffering from dementia. Consider a loved one’s interests, abilities, and disease progression when planning activities for them.
Therapy for Reminiscence
Reminiscence is one of the most beneficial types of activities for dementia patients. Individuals can recall cherished memories from their past by looking through old photos, listening to familiar music, watching classic films, and sharing stories. This provides meaningful engagement and has the potential to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Make a photo album or scrapbook with old photos of family, friends, pets, and special events. Digitise photos to make slideshows or virtual memory books that can be viewed on a tablet or laptop. Select films, TV shows or music from their era to play in the background all day. Allow them to share their memories at their own pace by asking open-ended questions.
Using multiple senses also produces powerful memory recall. The scent of flowers, the taste of a favourite food, or the touch of a cherished pet can instantly transport someone back in time. Making sensory bags out of different fabrics or baking treats with nostalgic scents enhances the immersion of activities.
Fill clear resealable plastic bags with pine needles, feathers, seashells, cotton balls, and sand to make your own sensory bags. Close your loved one’s eyes, reach in, and identify the objects through touch. To stimulate olfactory memories, bake cookies or breads scented with vanilla, cinnamon, or citrus. Serve nostalgic foods such as classic candies or family recipes.
Working with one’s hands engages the mind and stimulates the senses. Folding laundry, painting, gardening, and crafts such as scrapbooking provide a sense of accomplishment. Modify activities as abilities deteriorate; for example, use large pieces for puzzles or provide play tools for those who are less dexterous.
Folding towels or untangling knots in a rope are examples of simpler tactile tasks. On larger canvases, bolder colours could be used in painting projects. Gardening can entail anything from sorting leaves by shape to planting large seeds in potting soil. Adapt puzzles and games by selecting versions with fewer, larger pieces and simple goals.
Music has a powerful influence on memory recall and emotional well-being. For powerful sensory engagement, sing favourite songs, listen to meaningful genres, play simple instruments, or attend a musical performance.
In addition to playing favourite songs, experiment with instruments such as maracas, tambourines, or bells. Attend memory care residents-only community concerts. Sing nursery rhymes or songs you learned as a child. Individuals with a musical bent may enjoy writing simple songs.
Virtual exploration of treasured places is now possible thanks to tools like Google Earth. Individuals can access art and nature through live zoo and museum feeds. Family videos can evoke memories without the need for conversation. Tablets make it easier to access these experiences.
Individuals can take virtual tours of their childhood homes, favourite travel destinations, or dream locations. Live cams provide constantly changing visual stimulation from institutions all over the world. Gather family videos, messages, and photos on a personalised tablet for viewing at any time.
Adapt to Abilities
Activities should be matched to current cognitive levels. Focus on past hobbies, simple new skills, and social events in the early stages. As dementia worsens, simplify tasks and divide them into distinct steps. To avoid frustration, make sure they are aligned with your interests.
Prioritise enjoyable activities that correspond to previous roles and identities in mild dementia. Use one-step tasks and avoid overstimulation in moderate dementia. To provide comfort to people suffering from severe dementia, focus on sensory experiences such as music, scents, and tactile sensations.
Above all, these activities are intended to foster feelings of comfort and joy. Concentrate on sensory experiences rather than cognitive challenges. Be available as a source of comfort and compassion. Activities that are carefully planned and tailored to the individual can improve the quality of life for those suffering from dementia.