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Sunday, 11 December 2016

Suitable Activities for Dementia Patients

Finding suitable activities
It is helpful to talk to the person with dementia about what they enjoy. Take clues from them and try to find creative ways to adapt activities, focusing on what can be done. Try not to worry about getting things wrong first time; this can lead to finding the right activity. The focus of the activity should be on whether someone is enjoying it and that it has meaning for them, not the 'result' of the activity itself. The following suggestions may be helpful.

Conversation is a good example of a simple activity that is meaningful and beneficial for a person with dementia. It can take place in any setting, and with most people. It can be a good way for younger family members to engage with the person with dementia. This type of activity can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of the person with dementia. Even if the person with is having difficulties with verbal communication, non-verbal communication (eye contact, gestures and touching) can be just as meaningful. The important thing is to have a connection through the social interaction.

It is important to involve the person with dementia in the conversation, not cutting them off or talking to others as if the person is not there. Do not assume that someone cannot contribute to a conversation just because they have dementia. Time and support can help the person with dementia make themselves understood and remain involved in the conversation. Some ideas for aiding conversation can include using different prompts for conversation such as a past job or a favourite sports team, reading a newspaper or magazine together, or using technology such as online videos of old TV shows or events.

Exercise could include gardening, walking or swimming. Exercising together will be beneficial to the person with dementia and anyone accompanying them. Some exercises are appropriate for people with limited mobility, for example chair aerobics or a seated game of bowls.

Exercise can still be beneficial in the later stages of dementia. Exercises at this stage could include changing position from sitting to standing, walking a short distance or moving to a different chair

Creative pastimes
Creative pastimes can be enjoyable and relaxing for the person with dementia and those supporting them. These could include knitting, woodwork, and painting or drawing. If these pastimes start to become difficult for the person with dementia, it may be possible to adapt them, for example using an easier knitting pattern. If the person with dementia previously did an activity to a high standard, they may be frustrated at not being able to maintain this standard. It may be better to introduce a similar, but completely new, activity. For example, if someone used to enjoy cooking, they may now enjoy growing herbs.

Puzzles and games
People with dementia may enjoy activities that keep their mind active such as crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, cards, board games and electronic games.  If the person with dementia struggles with these, it may be possible to simplify them, for example choosing easier card games.  Some people also find electronic versions of some puzzles easier to manage.
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