Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by ashley.davis
If laughter is the best medicine, then fun engaging activities are the next best thing. In the healthcare industry, medication will only cure a problem to an extent. There are times when patients must need more than just a pill, especially the elderly.
And elderly patients who are suffering from dementia benefit immensely from fun activities.
Engaging in recreational activities is what the doctor will prescribe, as they are designed to stimulate the natural senses. Because no amount of medicine can overcome the power of a smile, let us look at some free activities for seniors with dementia and why it is the best treatment for a mental condition.
Why is it important to keep dementia patients engaged in daily activities?
Before we move on to the best activities for dementia patients, let us understand how it is helpful. Regardless of whether someone is diagnosed with dementia, daily activities add quality and value to a person’s life and give them a sense of routine and purpose. Furthermore, it helps with cognition and self-sufficiency and gives them something to look forward to when it becomes a part of their routine.
Things to remember when planning activities for dementia patients
Working with dementia patients can be a compassionate issue and must be handled with care. Listed below are the essential things to remember before planning such activities.
Make a safe working environment
Dementia patients can be forgetful or not always function in a standard capacity. This could lead to accidental mishaps in unfamiliar environments. So before planning any activity, it is best to ensure a safe environment that should evoke calm in a patient.
Enjoyment over achievement
The purpose is to enjoy, not achieve. Design plans that can hold down the patient’s attention. There are many free dementia activity packs available for engaging sessions.
Ensure the patients are comfortable
Flexibility is vital when planning activities because it must be based on the patient’s mood. First, ensure they are comfortable; if not, introduce some other activity to keep the patients engaged.
Always avoid over-stimulation
When dealing with dementia patients, avoid places with crowds, fast movement, or excessive noise, as they can trigger the senses to go into overload.
There may be situations when the patient is not responding to a certain activity. So being patient enough to find a replacement can go a long way.
How to choose the most appropriate activities for a loved one with dementia?
Firstly, it depends on how deep the connection is with the person. If you know about their life and what they like or dislike, it is easy to plan activities.
See what they love
Everyone has an emotional attachment. Chances are, if you know what your loved one was attached to, you can use it to create appropriate activities to help deal with dementia.
Find out what makes them comfortable
Whether they have dementia or not, everyone has a comfort zone. For example, some may like painting, while others listen to music. Try different activities to see which one your patient is comfortable with.
Free printed activities
They are free and make for the best appropriate activity for any dementia patient. For example, occupational therapy free printable activities for dementia patients help with engagement and attentiveness.
Pros and cons of doing activities for a loved one with dementia
When dealing with a patient with dementia, someone who is dearer to you, the best part about it is the interaction; out of the many, there are free printable activities for dementia patients that can help create an interactive bond between the two. In addition, if there is someone with early signs of dementia, then these activities help develop the brain, making it less likely to develop severe stages of dementia.
But adaptability is one of the crucial challenges when dealing with a loved one suffering from dementia. As a caregiver, patience is an important trait. In addition, improvisation is important too. The ability to assess a situation and make quick decisions based on the patient’s symptoms or behavior.
15 of meaningful activities for dementia patients
Memories are made in a split second, but they can be held on to forever. Dementia patients may have trouble remembering the things they used to love, but that does not mean it is not there. There are many memory free printable activities for dementia patients to keep them engaged. There are also helpful books on dementia that make for a great read. The following list is the safest and most meaningful activities to choose from.
1. Physical activities
Yoga, Tai Chi, or even group walks can be the best activity for dementia patients. Anything that involves getting physical without becoming too much of a strain is good for the mind and body.
2. Create a scrapbook
Photographs are always the best portal into nostalgia. Not only can it touch upon essential memories, but it also helps engage them in a conversation.
3. Start cooking
Cooking is the best way to stimulate all the senses in your body. The step-by-step cooking process is engaging enough for the dementia process, even if they need a little helping hand for support.
4. Make pasta threading
Pick up a needle and a pasta, and let your patient start threading. It serves as a good pastime and a good motor function for the body.
5. Animal therapy
Who does not love animals? Petting animals can stimulate the senses in your patient’s body, as the bonds between a person and animal are like muscle memory.
6. Working in the garden
For some fresh air and sensory stimulation, garden work is highly preferable. Gardening also helps in social interaction and makes the patients feel valued.
Not only does dancing serve as a physical activity, but it is joyful as long as the patients are shuffling too hard.
Patients can express themselves through color, as this form of activity may also help improve cognition.
9. Make a memory box
Memory boxes are like a scrapbook, but for everything meaningful, not just photos. They contain items of value from a patient’s life that can help with a sense of connection.
Singing activities like karaoke are great group engagement sessions. Not only are the patients exercising their vocal range, but as it happens, singing to music can stimulate the brain.
11. Play games
There are plenty of fun and safe games to keep dementia patients engaged. Games like UNO, Dominoes, and Scrabble help improve the cognitive functions of dementia patients. And they are fun.
Working on puzzles not only stimulates the brain but helps in social interaction between caregiver and patient.
Reading can greatly help with memory and even reduce deterioration. There are different types of elderly free printable activities for dementia patients that engage the senses.
14. Joke around
Telling jokes around the group helps reduce anxiety and depression in patients. What it does even better is bring a smile. Nothing can beat the power of humor!
15. Feel the texture
Feeling the soft texture, similar to a pet’s fur, is a soothing experience for dementia patients. It also aids in sensory stimulation, which brings about a nostalgic feeling often repressed by the condition.
Sensory activities for dementia patients
Items like sand and seashells provide a sense of touch that helps improve the senses in patients.
Give the patient a hand massage, or talk a walk, read with them. Even brushing their hair makes for a good activity.
Things like folding a towel and feeling a textured surface like fur is a great sensory boosters.
Online activities for dementia patients
Out of the many free online activities for dementia patients, YouTube is greatly recommended because, as the most prominent video platform, the many categories of content can trigger a positive response in dementia patients. How? For example, imagine a dementia patient in her 60s reminiscing about old music from her childhood.
It is painting, but online. Coloring websites are known to act as a delicate process for patients with dementia. These work best on tablets and are feasible for patients who cannot work with coloring pencils or paintbrushes.
Games activities for dementia patients
Free games or activities to help improve dementia symptoms, like dominoes, work best because of their simplicity and color design.
These make for an excellent end-game engagement. Meaning completing the set of jigsaw puzzles can create a sense of accomplishment in dementia patients.
Webinar activities in dementia care
Music therapy for patients
If you are looking for a free webinar on enhancing everyday activities in dementia care, then all you need to do is go online. Music therapy can enhance dementia care and significantly improve their life quality.
Depression in elder patients
Almost 2/3 of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s suffer from depression. Webinars that deal with such a topic can help and vastly improve patient care for dementia patients.
Sometimes the simplest of methods can be the most effective. Meaningful activities like dancing, reading, painting, and puzzles help stimulate the well-being of dementia patients profoundly looking to reconnect.
The patience to work through and adapt to the needs of their requirements can be the driving success of engaging activities for dementia patients. If you want to learn more about how to support a person suffering from dementia, read here.
1. How to crochet sensory activity mat for dementia free pattern?
Also known as twiddle muffs, a sensory crochet mat is best because it gives dementia patients with restless hands of dementia patients something to do. Patterns like beads, strands of textured ribbons, and fabric stitching with artwork work best as a ‘dementia-free pattern.’
2. How to entertain an elderly person with dementia?
Social interaction has been one of the best tools to entertain and treat an elderly patient with dementia. Caregivers who understand that physical activities like getting the patient to talk, massage, and hold their hands can best entertain dementia patients over a certain age.
3. How to stimulate dementia patients?
Physical activities have been known to work best for stimulating dementia patients. Therefore, activities like dancing, swimming, yoga, and group walks are highly preferred. At the same time, activities like animal therapy also work best since pets are known to relieve stress, which impacts sensory stimulation. A good diet is also helpful for dementia patients.