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9 Activities For Dementia Patients To Slow Cognitive Decline

4 May 2022

AllsWell Team

Table of contents:

How to Find the Right Activities for Patients Suffering from Dementia

9 Different Activities for Dementia Patients

5 Ways to Support People With Dementia 

 

Studies show that someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds. Dementia is a collection of symptoms showing a slow and steady decline in cognitive ability, thinking, and remembering daily activities. The condition affects over 55 million people worldwide, and there is no known cure.

Depending on the type and severity of dementia, symptoms may vary from person to person and may worsen over time. Thankfully, there are many ways to slow its progression and improve the quality of life through fun and engaging activities for patients with dementia.

In this post, we'll outline some fun and engaging activities for dementia patients and how to support someone with dementia.

How to Find the Right Activities for Patients Suffering from Dementia

Patients suffering from dementia may feel isolated, which can cause emotional distress and depression. Like everyone else, dementia patients also want to feel strong and independent. 

As such, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to care. The best activities to do with dementia patients depend on the individual, their needs, and the resources available.

Consider your loved one’s interests and abilities, along with any challenges or limitations they may have. If their memory or mobility are impaired, keep the activity simple, fun, and as engaging as possible.

Once you've found activities that complement your loved one's needs and interests, you'll want to set up a regular schedule. Don’t forget that many patients may not be able to participate in structured activities, while others may be able to do so only with assistance. 

Patients who require assistance with activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, dressing, or toileting, may be able to participate in more structured activities. Observe which other activities seem to be successful in keeping your loved one entertained. 

9 Different Activities for Dementia Patients

If you're caring for a loved one with dementia for the first time, it can be hard to know what to do to slow down cognitive decline. Some cognitive activities like puzzles, language exercises, reading, and card games have shown to be beneficial for people with dementia. 

Here are some simple activities for dementia patients that can help:

  1. Drawing or Painting 

Drawing is a fun and beneficial activity for people with dementia because it engages different parts of the brain at once. Art therapy can improve your loved one’s memory, attention, and mood and keeps them less focused on their symptoms and more on the fun time they’re having.

Art therapy also compensates for the loss of communication skills. People in the later stages of dementia often experience a loss of communication. Art therapy offers a way for your loved ones to express themselves. Don’t worry if your drawing skills aren't up to the mark. 

There are plenty of online games for dementia people, some allowing you to play together.

  1. Puzzles 

Puzzles are great for keeping your loved one’s mind active and sharp. They can also help improve their memory and focus. The best puzzles for people with dementia are ones that are easy to follow. They should have few steps and repetitive patterns.

You can find puzzles in all sorts of shapes and sizes at the store, or better yet, find more customizable puzzle patterns on apps for dementia patients.  

  1. Games Like Scrabble or Chess Together

Bingo, cards, scrabble, and chess are all excellent games for slowing down cognitive decline because they require concentration and memory skills. You can also try games that involve matching shapes or colors together—these also help with memory and problem-solving skills.

Other games for dementia people include Sorry!, Clue, Monopoly, Uno, and many more. The important thing is that you should keep these games simple enough to keep your loved one happy and engaged. Similar to puzzles are sorting activities for dementia patients, which could also help reduce cognitive decline.

  1. Reading Aloud Together (or just listen as someone else reads aloud)

Reading aloud is an excellent way to stimulate the brain and improve communication skills in people with dementia. It also helps connect people with dementia to their past, which can help improve memory. 

When reading aloud, choose a low-stimulation book with few distractions and a few large blocks of text. Books with large, bold text are best, as they are easiest to read. Also, choose a topic that your loved one is interested in.

  1. Write Letters or Cards Together

Writing a letter or card together with a dementia patient can be a great way of keeping them connected to the world around them even when things are getting tough, and they may not be able to communicate verbally. 

When a person is in the very early stages of dementia, they will often have moments of clarity, and writing letters and cards in a quiet, calm environment may keep them actively engaged in productive activity.  

Writing can also help people living with dementia rediscover their motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

  1. Join a Community Group that Shares a Common Interest or Activity

For example, if your loved one loves to read, help them join the local book club or take part in an online book club through sites like Goodreads® or Librarything®. If they enjoy animals, volunteer at your local shelter or visit nursing homes with animal therapy programs.

  1. Get Them Involved in Physical Activity

It's no secret that regular physical activity is good for your physical, mental, and emotional health. However, many older adults with dementia are no longer able to participate in more strenuous activities like running or weightlifting. So why not get them involved in activities they enjoy doing? 

Research shows that even simple exercises can help reduce the effects of cognitive decline and delay the onset of serious medical conditions. Going for a walk, dancing, singing, swimming, etc., are some free activities for dementia patients that you can engage in.

  1. Cooking Healthy Meals Together

As people age, they often have difficulty chewing and swallowing, so it’s important to make sure that their meals are soft and smooth. You can ask your senior loved one to help prepare the meals. Preparing healthy meals together not only keeps our loved ones fed with healthy food; it also ensures helps you create lasting memories together.

  1. Nature Walks

Nature has been shown to help reduce stress levels in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Take your loved one on walks through the woods or along the beach—whatever their favorite spots might be.

Spending time outside has proven to help improve mood and decrease anxiety, which brings down stress on caregivers.

5 Ways to Support People With Dementia 

We have to admit that taking care of people with dementia can easily be one of the toughest challenges for a caregiver. People with dementia may experience feelings of anxiety and stress. These feelings can make dementia symptoms worse. The good news is that with a little support, you can make a significant positive impact on the life of someone living with dementia. 

Here are five ways to support people with dementia:

  1. Learn About Dementia. The more information you have about dementia, the better equipped you are to deal with different situations that might come up. Dementia manifests in different symptoms and treatments. 

Understanding what’s happening to your loved ones will also help you plan how best to support them and figure out the best activities for patients with dementia.

  1. Communicate openly and often. Be upfront about your loved one’s diagnosis. It’s best not to hide it.

  2. Be straightforward about your loved one’s diagnosis. It’s best not to hide it. Be patient. Expect changes in behavior and be prepared for them.

  3. Expect changes in behavior and be prepared for them. Create a safe environment. Make sure your loved one has everything they need within reach. Avoid crowded places if possible.

  4. Make sure your loved one has everything they need within reach. 

Last but not least, be supportive. During difficult times, acknowledge your loved one’s feelings. Avoid crowded places if it makes them uncomfortable and only sticks to what makes them feel happy and comfortable.

Final Thoughts

When you're caring for a loved one with dementia, every experience has an impact. In general, these activities can help anyone with dementia slow down their cognitive decline and enjoy life even more. Don’t be afraid to be creative – the opportunities are limitless.

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