As specialists in furniture for dementia patients, we know that for those living with dementia, life often feel feels scary and frustrating. One way to combat these feelings is to engage in activities which stimulate the mind and help to bring pleasure to their lives.
The activities should aim to allow them to reminisce and discuss the memories that are precious to them; to form emotional connections, encourage self-expression and ultimately help them to feel productive and more engaged with life.
Exercise and physical activity are a must for us all. For dementia patients or older people, it can help regulate sleeping patterns and eradicate feelings of restlessness by creating a routine. Getting moving releases positive endorphins and sometimes it can just feel great to get some fresh air and spend time outdoors. A simple walk around the park or even gardening can help boost someone’s mood!
Reminisce on memories
One of the most heart-breaking symptoms of dementia is the effect that it has on a person’s memory. It’s a wonderful idea to engage with them by discussing their memories and is also a great way to spend some quality time learning more about your loved one. If your family member or friend gets frustrated or confused, remain patient and keep a gentle tone while explaining that sometimes it’s hard to remember the past. If it’s clear they’re still struggling, change the subject or suggest going for a walk or perhaps playing a game they like.
A more relaxing way to approach remembering the past could be to record an interview about their life and experiences. If you ask very general questions, it’s less likely they will become confused by things you’re asking – so keep the chat light-hearted and let them tell you what they do remember, guiding them into exploring certain parts further but never requesting specifics that they may struggle to recall. Not only will this allow them to open up about their lives and memories, but it will be a long-lasting memory to hold dear. Making a photo album together or reflecting on old family videos, is a lovely way to get closer to your loved one whilst allowing them an opportunity to remember times of joy in their lives.
Cooking or baking can be a really good activity. Following a recipe and the steps involved with the baking process itself gets minds working and can help dementia patients think in a logistical manner. They can then see the reward at the end by sitting down for afternoon tea with a freshly baked goodie!
If the family member or friend you’re visiting loves animals but doesn’t have a pet, animal therapy can be a perfect activity to engage in. It’s been proven that animals can relieve stress and symptoms of anxiety, providing a calming influence. With many other health benefits too, such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate, spending time with pets can also boost levels of our feel-good hormone – serotonin!
There are many organisations that offer visitation opportunities, why not find your local animal shelters or farms in which you can visit? Or if you know someone who has a well-behaved pet, even better! Invite them over for a cup of tea and a cuddle with their furry friend.
These activities allow dementia sufferers to reminisce on their precious memories, form emotional connections, encourage self-expression and ultimately help them to feel productive and more engaged with life. Have you experienced caring for someone with dementia? What activities did you find they enjoyed? We would love to carry on the conversation on our social media @knightsbridgefurniture on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.