It’s hard enough for patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s to deal with the fact that they’re slowly losing their memory and full cognitive functions.
But it can be just as hard – if not harder – for children of Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers to watch their beloved parents endure these troubling diseases.
Yet as difficult as this situation may be, it can be improved with the inclusion of specific activities for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia that continue to keep patients engaged, both mentally and physically.
Why Are Well-Being Activities for Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia So Important?
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia, seniors tend to have less and less interest in what they once loved to do. That can be tough on family members who want nothing more than to help them and make their Golden Years more enjoyable and comfortable.
That’s where regular activity comes into play. Carefully-planned activities can improve the lives of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and dementia in many ways.
Here are just some of the benefits that routine activities for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia can provide:
- Keeps patients focused
- Prevents patients from wandering
- May help to slow the effects of the disease
- Lowers effects of depression
- Encourages self-expression
- Sustains emotional connections with loved ones
- Helps build confidence
- Helps maintain healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Helps maintain optimal body weight
The activities that patients participate in don’t necessarily have to be physically demanding. While they can certainly have some movement aspect to them, activities can range from physical to more mindful and cognitive in nature. Regardless of the activity, the goal is to keep seniors engaged, interested, active, and focused on something positive despite their condition.
Activity Suggestions For Alzheimer’s or Dementia Patients
To keep Mom or Dad engaged, here are some ideas for activities for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia:
- Listening to music. Choose songs that your parents were particularly fond of or that are associated with good memories.
- Making art. Whether it’s painting, coloring, drawing, or simply cutting out shapes, creating art can be a stimulating activity for your parent.
- Making simple jewelry. Stringing beads or linking rubber bands together to create bracelets and necklaces can be a wonderful way to stimulate your parents’ creative juices while keeping them focused on a specific task.
- Work on puzzles. This activity requires a great deal of attention and focus, which is precisely what Alzheimer’s or dementia sufferers need.
- Plant flowers. Gardening has a way of evoking a sense of calm. Some patients tend to become agitated or irritated as a result of their symptoms, and this particular activity can help to offset these symptoms.
- Bake simple recipes together. As long as the recipe isn’t overly complicated and you operate the oven, baking can be a fun way to spend time together with your Mom or Dad.
- Talk about past relationships and memories. If there’s one way to keep their memories bright, talking about precious memories and loves ones is it.
- Flip through old out photo albums and scrapbooks. Don’t rush through these, but rather spend time on each page discussing the significance of each photo.
- Organize household items and clean the house. Light household chores can give your parents a sense of pride and accomplishment.
How Can You Help Your Mom or Dad With These Activities?
In addition to participating in any one of these activities directly with your folks, there are other things you can do to make these activities more enjoyable and successful.
Describe the activity before participating so they don’t get confused after starting. Be mindful of any specific shortcomings in order to prevent any frustrations. For example, someone with severe arthritis in their hands might find making jewelry a bit tedious. Instead, flipping through scrapbooks might be more appropriate.
Focus on the journey of the activity rather than the results. For instance, if your chosen activity is putting a puzzle together, try to prevent your parent from trying too hard to complete the puzzle and instead get them to focus on how fun it is to find the right pieces and link them together. The goal is to get your parents to focus and have some fun.
If your Mom or Dad seems to be losing interest, take a breather. You can try something else in the meantime, or simply take a break and pick up where you left off after a little while. You might even want to tweak the activity to keep them engaged.
Always let your Mom or Dad know that their participation and help is valued. Ask them for some help every once in a while to help them feel as though they are needed.
Make Your Time Spent With Your Parents Memorable
Spending time with your elderly parents is obviously important, both for you and your folks. But what you do with that time also matters.
Consider any one of the above-mentioned activities for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, or come up with one of your own that you know your parents will enjoy. Not only can you help to keep their minds sharp and their bodies active, you’ll also be creating more special memories in this unique phase of life.