Taking care of patients with cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can be a complicated task. Sometimes, the disease causes social interaction issues or even require long-term care. Because of their disease, many patients need constant supervision and assistance with their personal care.
Working in a caregiving environment and keeping to an extensive routine is standard procedure. Patients with cognitive dysfunction tend not to notice these routines as they have trouble comprehending time.
A person with dementia can be particularly difficult to take care of as their behavioral patterns are erratic due to a reduction in their cognitive abilities. Keeping their brains active can slow down the progressive deterioration of their brain, and provide comfort & stability to their everyday lives.
To assist in reaching this goal, use this list of dynamic activities for dementia patients that promote stimulation.
Activities for Patients with Dementia
Keeping patients with dementia busy, especially seniors with dementia, can improve their quality of life and help them conquer other issues they face. We are talking about activities that stimulate the mind to improve cognitive function as opposed to physical activity. However, it is important to make sure the tasks aren’t too difficult as this will frustrate the patient. The idea is to provide tasks that encourage them to work on their cognitive skills in a safe and secure environment. These activities are designed to decrease anxiety and depression & increase motivation.
Make sure that the activities are easy to understand and fun for adults to take part in.
Build a Puzzle
Select a puzzle with bright colors that are easy for the patient to see. The pictures of the puzzle should be simple and not too complicated as anyone who suffers from severe dementia will likely have a visuospatial deficit.
Use puzzles that have one or two interesting pictures and then slowly introduce a puzzle with more pictures and colors. The purpose is not to trigger any frustration in the patient but to try and stimulate their visual perception.
Bingo is an easy way to get your patients to join in together as a group, especially if there’s a prize at the end of the game. It works on patients’ cognitive skills as the game is associated with matching colors and shapes.
Many people from the older generations have green fingers and love gardening. Working outside in the fresh air helps with their motivational skills. Gardening also helps with their motor skills and it’s an easy activity that any dementia patient can manage.
Going outside also gives them a change of scenery. However, install benches around the garden in case they become tired.
Taking your patients out for a daily swim helps them with other problems they face. It’s a way to exercise but it also reduces swelling as many patients suffer from inflamed ligaments. Furthermore, regular physical exercise assists dementia patients who struggle to sleep at night.
Swimming is also a way to keep their minds busy as they’ll concentrate on keeping themselves afloat while swimming from end to end. Make sure that all patients wear safety equipment at all times to prevent any potential accidents.
The art of Tai Chi is to work on balance. Doing Tai Chi with your patients twice a week or more stimulates their vestibular system. This helps prevent patients from losing their balance and falling. Furthermore, Tai Chi implements calm breathing exercises. It’s a tranquil form of exercise which can help patients with anxiety and stress.
Music reduces erratic behavioral patterns and aggression in dementia patients. Playing music for your patients helps to calm them down and brings enjoyment to their environment. Find out what type of music your patients prefer and incorporate it into a game.
Make sure the games are easy to understand and they don’t require rapid movement. Of course, a game such as musical chairs isn’t practical. Some patients can’t move as fast, so try a game where they can sit comfortably and enjoy the music.
Perhaps you can encourage each patient to play an easy musical instrument such as a triangle or a cowbell. Make a song together with an easy beat and tempo.
Create a Memory Box
Dementia affects your patient’s ability to remember faces, even those of family and friends. Encouraging them to create a “memory box” can stimulate their own memory. Incorporate pictures with them side by side with their loved ones or family pets.
Help them craft photo albums and sentimental objects that will potentially trigger memories. Try using elements such as fragrances they’re familiar with and perhaps even videos of them when they were younger.
Arts and Crafts
Painting and drawing help patients use their cognitive skills as well as their spatial reasoning. Encourage them to paint self-portraits or anything they really enjoy. Try to do classes with them to teach them how to paint easy pictures such as flowers and trees.
Arts and crafts also include making the following:
- Beaded jewelry
- Seasonal decorations such as Christmas and Easter
- DIY ornaments for their bedrooms
- Hats and clothes
- Decorations for their rooms
- Costumes for parties
These activities for patients with dementia can also be opportunities for their family members to join in.
One of the symptoms of dementia is the decline in reading and writing skills. The patient may become frustrated by reading a book themselves. Instead, perhaps reading them a story will help stimulate imagination and concentration.
Out and About
Taking your patients out for a walk helps with exercise but you also want to help with their memory. Try to take your patients to a familiar place they used to enjoy frequenting.
Ask your patients questions about the area and try to encourage them to talk about what they enjoy about this particular spot. Don’t talk too much about the past as they may not remember and it may trigger frustration.
Patients suffering from late-stage dementia can’t comprehend the extent to which their brain is deteriorating. Patients may act out without warning. Stimulating the brain with easy tasks can help them forget about the frustration and help them live more comfortably with their disease.
These activities for dementia patients are designed to keep their brains active and stimulated during the day, as many suffer from reversed sleep patterns. By keeping them active while the sun is up, it may help them sleep better at night.
Although there are ways to help ease the symptoms of dementia, there’s no known definitive cure for it. Luckily, keeping the mind and body active every day, especially during the early stages, can significantly delay the effects of dementia—that makes these games valuable for patients, their families and caretakers alike.