Back to Dementia guide. There are all sorts of activities you can do — physical, mental, social and creative — that help you to live well with dementia and improve wellbeing. If you care for someone who has dementia, a shared activity can make both of you happier and able to enjoy quality time together. You can continue with the activities you already enjoy, though they may take longer than they used to.
Meaningful and Stimulating Activity Ideas in Alzheimer's Disease
1. Exercise and physical activity
In my work with people with dementia I've often been surprised at the level of skills that people retain as the disease progresses if they are performing tasks that are very familiar to them. This is because procedural and long-term memory tends to be affected as a later stage than short term memory. Smaller and smaller non-routine occurrences often seem to become more difficult over time. A game that she played with her children when they were growing up, or one that she played as a child will likely hold a special attraction for a woman whose memory of her past is more vivid than her memory of things more recent. That familiarity with the activity will serve to stimulate memories at the same time that it holds attention. Listening to music is also a very calming and engaging activity.
2. Reminisce about their life
Some activities have proven to be particularly helpful for those with dementia, such as games, exercise and outdoor activities, and music and art, as well as maintaining day-to-day routines. By providing structure and routine for a person living with dementia, it helps to maintain their cognitive function, sense of security, and can calm anxious or aggressive behaviors. It also helps provide a sense of control over their day and their environment, especially for those in the early stages of the disease. For those in the end stage of dementia, many of these activities are often one of the few ways they can still engage their memories and communicate. Share this with a friend:. Seniorlink Blog. This is often distressing for the person. Sometimes, games like Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, etc. Robert Wilson and a team at Rush University Medical Center tracked almost 1, people with an average age of 80, for nearly five years, and found that playing trivia games and other forms of board games helped stave off mental decline by promoting activity changes in the temporal and hippocampus regions of the brain.
Share this infographic. These needs, especially the need to feel loved, included, and valued, should be seen as equally important for senior adults with dementia as they are for all of us. While dementia is by definition characterized by many declines and limitations, and it may sometimes be hard to see past these challenges, not all abilities are lost, especially in the early and middle stages of the disease. Seniors with dementia are capable of making meaningful contributions and experiencing joy, thus providing opportunities to facilitate such experiences is crucial. There are many types of activities that research suggests can be beneficial and enjoyable for individuals with dementia. Benefits of such activities include opportunities for self-expression, greater social and emotional connections with others, engagement with life, stress relief, and the ability to stir memories and provide moments of greater clarity. This sentiment embodies the unique value of art for seniors with dementia, in that there is no right or wrong. Art programs for individuals with dementia and their caregivers have been shown to improve quality of life and reduce some of the behavioral and emotional symptoms of the disease.