Keeping active and involved in meaningful pursuits is vital for our mental health. We all need to feel both needed and successful. This feeling does not change because of a diagnosis of dementia, though it might warrant some creativity to attain. In fact, engaging and rewarding activities can lessen challenging symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease such as depression, agitation, anxiety, anger and also sundowning.
The important thing is discovering activities that are suitable for the person’s level of cognitive functioning. It’s a case of figuring out what stimulates engagement without producing unnecessary frustration – something that might call for a bit of experimentation.
- Step outside. Whenever weather allows, merely getting out of the house can offer instant joy and gratification. Pick a bouquet of fresh flowers and then take a walk to deliver them to a neighbor. Read a book out loud or reminisce through a photo album together on the deck. Put up a table with potting soil, containers, seedlings and succulents, and create a small garden.
- Do laundry. There is nothing like the scent of laundry that’s been hanging outside to dry! Give the senior some freshly laundered wash cloths, pillowcases, towels, etc. and request their assistance in folding.
- Construct a memory box. A simple memory box can be crafted specific to the person’s interests. As an example, a retired carpenter’s box might have PVC pipe, nuts, bolts, tools, pieces of wood, etc. Someone who loves baking may like looking through a box filled with measuring cups and spoons, recipe cards, a whisk, etc. When completed, reminisce with the senior about what it was like working with those items. You may be surprised at the memories they invoke.
- Make decorations. There are any number of handmade decoration ideas for the holidays, but you don’t have to wait until December to start crafting. Thread large wooden beads or even dry tube-shaped pasta into necklaces or bracelets for the grandkids. Make a scrapbook from photographs – or, embellish picture frames to display favorite images in a prominent place in the home. The ideas are limitless – but the purpose is to produce something useful or meaningful.
- Help another person in need. If the elderly individual has been passionate about a certain cause, such as assisting the homeless or volunteering at the children’s hospital, brainstorm ways they can still make a difference in that area. Perhaps you could collect coats for a local shelter, enlisting the senior’s help in sorting and packing them into bags to deliver. Or, select toys together and drop them off for hospitalized children.
Hearts at Home In-Home Care’s Kansas City home care experts are brimming with additional innovative ideas to help seniors with dementia continue to live meaningful, fulfilling lives. Reach out to us at 913-440-4209 to schedule a free in-home consultation to learn more about how we can help a senior you love. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.