Therapeutic Dementia Activities for the Aged

Alzheimer’s disease is increasingly common in Australia’s ageing population, and it has also contributed to the increased number of people with dementia over time. It is estimated that there are between 400,000 and 459,000 Australians with Dementia in 2020.

People living with dementia will experience a decline in thinking skills and memory loss, preventing them from leading an ordinary life. Although this may be the case, older adults with dementia can live a quality of life with the love and support from carers, aged care staff, and their families. 

Types of Activities for People with Dementia

For a person with dementia, a lack of stimulation or boredom is very frustrating. Whenever aged care staff plan the care for your loved one, they include stimulating activities that boost their mood and bring pleasure while living with dementia. Here are some of the types of activities:

Exercise or physical activities

Exercise provides many health benefits. For a person with dementia, exercise provides the same kind of health benefits as anyone else according to recent research

Depending on the age, fitness, and stage of Alzheimer’s disease, and health conditions, such as high blood pressure, arthritis, etc.

Other physical activities that increase heart rate but may not feel like structured exercise include:

Music Therapy

Many studies confirm the benefits of music therapy for people living with dementia. One study, in particular, proves that music therapy improves cognitive function for people with dementia. Music therapy which is one of the complementary therapies in Delta Care shows positive results for the long-term treatment of depression.

 Music therapy may be one of the great ways for the person to break from fear and confusion. 

Some people may not remember their loved ones, but they can still remember the words of their favourite songs.

Some ideas for music a person with dementia may enjoy include:

Carers encourage physical activity with other residents who develop motor skills such as dancing and the tune and doing props. These fulfil their need for engagement and social involvement. 

Life skills activities

People living with Alzheimer may want to do things they enjoyed from their past. For example, an office worker might like to do a purposeful activity that reminds them of working in an office.

 Activities involving organising such as stuffing envelopes and cleaning a drawer may be a great way to enjoy their time. 

Getting involved in a daily routine gives a loved one living with dementia a sense of purpose which boosts their self-esteem. 

Aged care staff can also make sure that the older adult participates in activities that re-establish their old roles.

These are some life skills activities for people with dementia: 

Some enjoy activities that allow social contact, so you should keep that in mind whenever you plan these activities. 

Intellectually stimulating activities

Intellectually stimulating activities provide an opportunity for training thinking abilities. One way of helping a person with dementia is by implementing activities based on the Montessori method

The Montessori gives residents the freedom and independence to partake in challenging tasks with respect to their limits.

These are some ideas for intellectually stimulating activities carers can provide:

Activities that Foster Emotional Connections

Dementia residents also need a purposeful activity that stirs their memories and builds emotional connections. Suggestions for these activities include: 

Tips for Planning Dementia Activities

When planning for activities, the person with dementia should compensate for lost activities, and provide enjoyment and pleasure (Dementia Australia). These are some tips to consider when planning activities that help stimulate patients with dementia. 

Relate the Activities To the Patient’s Life and Interests

When planning activities for a person with dementia, it's important to look at their past career or work history, social interests, previous hobbies, recreational activities, and so on.

Reminisce Past Memories

When you ask the person with dementia "do you remember?" it might make him feel embarrassed. Instead, you can help the person by sharing a memory of yourself so that it will help them relax and share their memories and life events comfortably.

Focus on Enjoyment Not Achievement

For someone with dementia, it's best to give them an activity that they're good at. Observe what their strengths are and assign a task that won't seem too challenging or too easy.

Adjust Activities to Stages of the Disease

Plan purposeful activities that cater to the different stages of dementia. Older adults with later stages might enjoy shuffling with cards, pet therapy, listening to mixtapes, and more.

Make Activities Safe for Loved One

People with dementia often have difficulty with visual perception and at times, have a hard time with daily activities. All that needs to be done is to take necessary precautions to prepare a safe environment and correct work heights to prevent accidents.

Don’t Overstimulate a Person with Dementia

Whenever you're planning an activity, it's best to offer simple exercise options and try to limit overstimulation. It's always best to focus on one activity at a time so that the dementia patient won't feel overwhelmed or stressed by others.

Conclusion

Activities can be a way of managing challenging behaviours in residents with dementia and providing mental and physical health benefits. If you’re looking for a resource for someone living with dementia, visit the dementia Australia blog or contact the national dementia helpline. You can also visit our dementia menu navigation on our website for more services.

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