Activities for Carers and Those Living with Dementia

Guest blog from Active Minds, Activities For People With Dementia & Alzheimers

Taking part in meaningful activities is hugely important for someone living with dementia in order maintain overall well-being. When caring for someone with dementia, such as in their own home, there are various activities which are suitable to engage in together.

Activities that involve both the person with dementia and their carer can be fantastic for boosting mood and bringing joy, however it is important when selecting activities that the person’s abilities, likes and dislikes are considered in order to provide the most engaging and enjoyable activities.

Here we will cover some fantastic dementia activities which are suitable for someone living with dementia and their carer.  

Reminiscence

As someone progresses along the dementia journey, it may become more challenging to recall memories, and sometimes prompts may be needed. Reminiscing together can be a perfect activity to encourage conversation and help spark fond memories of the past.

Listening to a piece of music together which is familiar for the person with dementia, such as a wedding song or a popular song from their era can be a fantastic reminiscence activity. Ask gentle questions surrounding the song, such as, ‘did you enjoy dancing to this song?’ and ‘did they play this at parties?’ to let the person with dementia tell their own stories whilst enjoying the song.

Other reminiscence activities which can be brilliant for sparking memories could be looking through old photographs together and talking about the places and people pictured. If the person doesn’t have their own photos, you can use carefully selected images from postcards or magazines which will have meaning to the person.

Seeing something or somewhere in a photograph can help to spark memories; why not choose places such as holiday destinations, sports games or famous people from their time?

Arts and Crafts

Creative activities can be brilliant for providing a sense of achievement whilst boosting mood and promoting relaxation. Take in to account the persons abilities and preferences and tailor the activities to suit these.

Activities can include painting from a still life object, colouring in an age appropriate image, making decorations or even knitting together. As a carer, it is important to provide encouragement and remember taking part in the activity is often just as important as ‘finishing’ it. Displaying the creation can also help to provide a sense of accomplishment.

Exercise

Physical well-being is important to maintain as we age and staying active can help promote positivity and overall health. Whilst exercise and activities may need to change in line with mobility, balance, cognitive or vision challenges, there are still a wide range of ways to stay active.

Taking part in some seated exercise together, or perhaps even going for a walk around the garden can help provide daily activity.

Sensory Box

Senses can sometimes decline as we age, resulting in a withdrawal from activities or conversations. By exploring meaningful sensory activities together, you can help to provide a wealth of benefits and improve quality of life. For someone living with dementia, engaging in sensory activities can be highly beneficial especially if communication is limited, or the person is not able to go outdoors as much anymore. 

Sensory activities can be brilliant for encouraging relaxation; smelling a familiar scent or listening to soothing music can help transport someone to a fond memory and reduce agitation.

Creating a sensory box together can be a fun and engaging activity which can be revisited time and again. Select items to place in the box which will provide sensory engagement, whilst also holding significance for the person. This can include a cd with a favourite song on, photographs of loved ones, a familiar scent or perfume or an item of clothing.

As you put each item in (or take out from) the box, you can ask gentle questions to prompt conversation, spark memories and engage the senses.

There are a wide variety of activities which are suitable for a carer and someone living with dementia. It is always important to consider the persons routine, likes and dislikes and hobbies when selecting activities, as those which are fond or meaningful will be most enjoyable.

Since 2010 Active Minds have been researching and developing activities to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.