One of the biggest challenges for caregivers who are caring for seniors with dementia is coming up with activities for the person in their care.
It can be tempting to just leave the person with dementia alone but research has shown that providing activities can help that person keep and use what cognitive function they still have and slow down the progression of the disease. The good news is that there are tips that can help you come up with meaningful activities. Here are some activities for seniors with dementia:
Consider the interest of the person: It can be difficult to just come up with activities for the loved one in your care. However, if you start by thinking about what activities the senior in your care has enjoyed that may give you a place to start. Keep in mind that you will need to consider how severe the dementia is before you settle on an activity, but knowing what they have enjoyed in the past can be a good place to start. For example: If someone loved to garden, cook, sew, or do needlework you can offer an activity that is based on not only what they loved but their current cognitive skill. While you may have to simplify what you do (for example planting seeds instead of pruning), it can still put them in touch with activities that they have enjoyed in the past.
Set up routines: One of the most devastating effects of dementia is the fact that many people who get it begin to feel like they have lost their purpose. You can help the elderly loved one in your care by making them feel more useful and needed. You can do this by setting up activities that you and your loved one can do together. Keep in mind that these tasks do not have to elaborate or outside of the norm. Simply by taking out the garbage, washing dishes, or folding the laundry you can help the senior in your care feel that they have purpose. Keep in mind that with any type of task that you offer you will need to make sure that it matches the senior’s present cognitive abilities.
Offer social interaction: Keep in mind that even if your elderly loved one’s abilities have diminished they still need to interact with other people. Every person no matter the level of their cognitive function needs to have social access with others. You can provide this for the senior in your care by many different ways. You can simply have them accompany you when you run errands, invite one or two trusted people over to visit, or even arrange some time at a senior center if appropriate. Try to schedule social interaction in a calm and stressful manner since crowds and noise can often overwhelm someone with dementia.
Provide ways to exercise physically: Even seniors with more advanced dementia can benefit from regular exercise. Try to have the elderly loved one in your care take daily walks which can help to reduce anxiety and agitation. If they are able to use a stationary bike it can also help relieve agitation and boredom. It is important to consider the health status, level of dementia, and overall needs of the senior before choosing a physical activity. However, once you do choose something to participate in make sure that they are able to on a regular basis.
About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.
Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.