As a caregiver for a dementia patient, you are likely to be both worried and frustrated given the needs and requirements of this job. Looking after someone with dementia is a very demanding task and requires a lot of efforts on the caregiver’s part.
Research has it that it is very important to keep people with mental illnesses physically and mentally engaged and occupied. While coming up with appropriate and interesting activities and pastimes is yet another challenge, there are certain things that almost always work.
Here are the 6 activities you should plan to keep your dementia patient busy:
Play board games
Board games are always fun and entertaining and they can keep patients engaged for a couple of hours. They also provide a wonderful opportunity for patients to have fun and relax their minds.
Research suggests that one of the most effective and ideal board games for people with dementia is Bingo. It is a great game that provides mental stimulation and is extremely beneficial at a cognitive level since the game asks players to match and distinguish between shapes and colors.
And this kind of mental stimulation is beneficial for dementia patients.
Reading doesn’t only have to revolve around story books, novels or newspapers. You could simply pick up an old photo from your patient’s photo collection and talk about it. You could also read aloud to your patient or they can read with you which is not only enjoyable but also soothing for the mind.
Reading together can lead to great conversations and discussions between you and your patient, which may be sparked by the words and photos on the page. These conversations may even take you both to a whole new place.
Moreover, this is also a great way to start a one-on-one interaction with your patient which is quite essential to their well-being. Shared group reading sessions can also stimulate creativity and memories, and improve mood and concentration in dementia patients.
Cooking sessions at home
It is fairly common for a dementia patient to lose interest in food and dislike mealtimes. In such a situation, you should plan a baking or cooking session with them to stimulate their senses and reawaken their love for food.
A fun, enjoyable and engaging cooking session may include making your patient’s favorite food or perhaps following a popular family recipe. You can get them to do things like cutting and chopping, washing and peeling vegetables, or perhaps decorating cupcakes or any dessert. For some patients, even setting up the dining table could be fun.
Doing this won’t only help the two of you spend some fun time together but it will also activate their senses and make them feel involved and useful. Because dementia can often lead to sensory changes like sight difficulties and a person’s ability to smell or taste food, an activity like this can help them enjoy food and mealtimes.
A day at the zoo
For both children and adults alike, a fun-filled day at the zoo can be extremely rewarding and gratifying. Besides, who doesn’t like animals? Research suggests that having pets is very beneficial for the health and can lower blood pressure and boost levels of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. So, if you or your patient don’t own a pet, take a trip to a petting zoo or a family farm with the patient where she can touch and communicate with animals.
They can also connect with these animals, feed them and simply spend a pleasurable and a soul-soothing time with them. This is also a great way to keep the patients involved and make them admire God’s beautiful creation.
A walk in Mother Nature
Living with dementia often creates feelings of disconnection and isolation in patients who may have lost touch with nature and reality. As a caregiver, you can simply take your patient outdoors and enjoy a walk in nature.
Use nature to activate their sensory experiences. Perhaps, bask in the sunshine, listen to the humming of the birds, feel the wet grass beneath your and smell the sweet flowers.
Or, strike a conversation with them about their favorite outdoor or nature-based activities and help plan those activities for them. This will give both of you immense peace of mind.
Sing songs and listen to music
When all else fails, put some soft music on. Music can stimulate your patient and is also likely to keep them busy singing, dancing or just taking a trip down memory lane. Music has a therapeutic effect and is also said to be a great way to get through to people with dementia and help them cope with their situation.
Music has also been found to help patients recall memories and emotions. Singing show tunes from TV serials and classical hits also greatly enhance their mental performance.
Living with dementia is just as challenging as looking after someone who has the disease. However, not all hope is lost and as a caregiver, one can make extra efforts to deal with the patient in ways that are efficient and effective. Try to engage your patients in mentally stimulating activities every day.
If you or a loved one are going through memory lapses or signs of mild cognitive impairment, take the brain test immediately for early medical intervention.
Kamil Riaz Kara is a Writer with a Masters in Administrative Sciences. He frequently blogs on technology, lifestyle and health.