Ideal activities for a person with dementia
Taking part in activities which match their interests, or which are familiar, can be very important to the quality of life for people with dementia.
Meaningful activities can continue to be enjoyable and stimulating at all stages of the development of dementia, and can significantly improve wellbeing.
1. When we’re talking about activities, we don’t only mean the organised events at the home, though there are plenty of those each week. Activity can be anything purposeful, which could be as simple as helping to make the bed or making a cup of tea. It’s important that it’s something the person is capable of though, otherwise it could be intensely frustrating.
2. Or an activity can simply be anything which the person enjoys. This is one reason why we spend time getting to know all about our residents, as it isn’t always easy for them to communicate their enjoyment, so we need to be able to ‘read’ their emotional responses. Enjoyable activities could be as basic as sharing a joke, starting a song, having a little dance, reading the newspaper together or talking briefly about a favourite photo.
3. Everyone likes to feel useful, and sharing some daily tasks can be a positive experience. We have regular activities like baking, but some of our residents also like to help with the washing up, or folding the laundry.
4. As with any group of people, residents’ interests and abilities will differ. We understand that not everyone will be interested in the same activities, and never try to pressure our residents into doing an activity they’re not interested in or capable of.
5. It is important to find a variety of activities that stimulate different senses. Sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste are all important, and some become more so when language abilities are impaired, or if someone is upset. Soft textures, calming colours and soothing sounds can be very effective.
Remember with activities that, as with any other aspect of life, the person with dementia is still an individual. Their personal tastes and preferences will often remain prevalent, even if they can’t communicate them easily. It’s part of our job to know our residents well enough to be able to understand them.