Spending time together doing meaningful activities can be a real boost for anyone living with dementia. You could try doing something brand new. Or you could opt for something based on their interests. Whatever you choose, it can help to spark conversations, encourage sociability and give a real sense of purpose to every day living.
Here are our top 10 ideas for activities you can plan today:
- Bake some bread. Whether it’s the careful measuring, the satisfying kneading or the pure pleasure of tasting the finished loaf, baking bread together makes everyone feel good.
- Listen to music. Our auditory system is the first to develop when we are babies. With degenerative conditions like dementia it seems to be a case of first in, last out. Music appears to have the power to unlock memories. Even if someone is unable to sing along to favourite songs they may be able to clap, whistle or tap their feet.
- Hug a (well-behaved) pet. According to the Mental Health Foundation, the companionship a pet provides is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress. Pets can also have a calming effect. Just stroking, sitting next to or playing with an animal can help someone to relax. It can reduce blood pressure and levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
- Read out loud from a favourite book. Reading aloud is not just for children. There are lots of reasons why someone with dementia may have given up reading. Maybe their eyesight is failing, perhaps they can’t physically hold the book comfortably, or maybe the jumble of words becomes to much. But that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy listening.
- Plant seeds. Any gardening project will give someone living with dementia a sense of looking after something. If you don’t have lots of space you could plant seeds in a pot in a windowsill. Together you can watch the seeds grow, take on responsibility for watering the seeds and it could spark memories of favourite gardens or plants.
- Talk about favourite childhood books and comics. People with dementia can’t always judge the passage of time and may access memories from many years ago and think they happened recently. Our childhood memories of favourite books and comics can be some of our strongest. Why not show them a copy of the latest Beano to chat about how it has changed.
- Have an afternoon tea party. Fun and delicious, enjoy tea and cake for a little afternoon celebration.
- Dance. A study has shown that dancing can help people with dementia. It’s fun, it’s active and it’s another chance to enjoy listening to music.
- Do a jigsaw puzzle together. Doing a jigsaw puzzle together helps to keep the brain active and encourages the fine motor skills needs to put the pieces in place. It’s best to start with one that’s very easy and move to something more challenging rather than the other way around, which could lead to frustration.
- Paint a picture outside. Watercolours can be done anywhere so are the perfect choice for some art therapy outside in the fresh air. You could suggest painting something you can see or just let the imagination run wild.
At Green Tree Court nursing home, we organise daily activities including arts and crafts, cooking, pet visits, and gardening. To find out more about our personalised approach to care, please call us on 01392 240400.