The Covid-19 pandemic has got us all cooped up at home to practice social distancing, for our own safety and the safety of our more vulnerable members of society like the aged and sickly. It has wreaked havoc on everybody’s mental health, but for those who are giving full-time care to a loved one who has dementia, it is even more difficult. Not being able to go out and visit friends and families or simply enjoy the outdoors in public spaces means dementia caregivers have had to find more and more creative ways to keep their loved ones engaged and entertained.
Boredom and isolation have far more serious implications for people living with dementia than anyone else, as it exacerbates their symptoms causing them to act out or retreat further into themselves. It is so important that people with dementia are stimulated mentally in ways that give them a sense of fulfilment and joy. Caregivers need to try to stay flexible and patient and tailor their memory care activities to the person with dementia.
Every person is different, and dementia doesn’t affect someone’s preferences or skills and abilities. Creating memory care activities that revolve around those tastes is an effective way to immerse them in what they’re doing, providing a fulfilling experience. Coming up with new ideas is exhausting, so we’ve compiled a list of ideas for dementia-friendly indoor activities that you can do at home.
Relive the past
People who have dementia struggle to recall their short term memory, which can be incredibly frustrating, but they can more easily remember moments and memories from their distant past. Pulling up these old memories gets their brain going, and it’s reaffirming to feel like themselves again. Going through old photographs, listening to old records (most old songs are available on YouTube), watching their favourite old TV show or movie, are great ways to reminisce.
Engage the senses
Who hasn’t had that experience where a specific scent has sent us back to our childhood? It’s the same for people with dementia. The senses open up their own secret trap doors to our memories, so find some fun ways to engage all the senses.
Taste: Make your loved ones favourite dessert or food together, using familiar recipes and spices.
Smell: Explore this while cooking or baking with your loved one. Play guessing games where they must identify a fruit, spice, flower, just by smelling it with their eyes closed.
Sight: Take advantage of any access to the outdoors that you might have. Sit and observe the natural wonder of the world – the colours, animals, and plants.
Hearing: Listen and identify birds with your loved one, just by taking in the sounds of their chirping. Or listen to some music from their childhood and try to identify the singer or band together.
Touch: Human touch plays an important role in overall well-being for people with dementia, a simple five-minute hand massage can be relaxing and de-stressing.
Dedicated memory care activities
Studies suggest that cognitive stimulation through memory care activities slows degeneration. There are a number of activities that you can do from home that stimulate general thinking, concentration, and memory. These include things like arts and crafts, yoga, baking and cooking, gardening, needlework (if it is within their capability), and other simple games like cards or board games.
Involvement in purposeful activities
Tasks that have a clear purpose, like hanging up or folding laundry, sorting and putting away cutlery, weeding a flower bed, or sweeping the house, are excellent tasks for someone with dementia. These activities help them to feel less of a burden and gives them a proper sense of fulfilment, self-worth, and you can easily show them with your appreciation that they are valued for their contribution.
Connect with friends and family
This might seem like a big ask, especially in these difficult times, but technology makes it possible to connect with family and friends. Individuals with dementia do struggle with technology, but video calling is ideal for them as it enables them to connect the voice with a face.
We hope this has got your creative juices flowing and that you make some memorable moments with your loved ones!