773 E. Haverford Road • Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Easy, Fun and Engaging Activities for All Stages of Dementia

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Easy, Fun and Engaging Activities for All Stages of Dementia

Dementia authorities agree that enjoyable, life engaging activities should be a regular part of the lives of loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. For example, dementia experts at the Mayo Clinic® and the Alzheimer’s Association® advise that these types of activities have essential therapeutic benefits that reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem and improve the overall quality of life.

Heather Miller, Personal Care Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr located in Bryn Mawr, PA, says, “We recognize the physical and emotional value of stimulating programs, activities, and amenities that bring enjoyment and purpose to the lives of our residents living with dementia. The good news is that family caregivers can also use life-enriching activities for their loved ones at home to raise their spirits and soothe their symptoms.

“You can determine what types of activities will work best based on your loved one’s abilities and stage of dementia. For example, loved ones in the early stages can still enjoy their favorite activities with you such as going out to dinner, the movies or their favorite place to shop.

“Dementia specialists say you should keep up with these activities for as long as your loved one is able.”

Tips for Creating Fun and Engaging Activities

When considering fun and engaging activities for your loved one, the Alzheimer’s Association offers the following advice. “In the early stages of dementia, the person may withdraw from activities he or she previously enjoyed. It is important to help the person remain engaged. Having an open discussion around any concerns and making slight adjustments can make a difference. For example, a large social gathering may be overwhelming, but the person may be able to interact more successfully in smaller groups.

“As Alzheimer's progresses, you may need to make other adjustments to the activity.”

To identify activities that will be fun for your loved one with dementia and keep them engaged, the Alzheimer’s Association suggests the following 10-point approach:

  1. Pay attention to what the person enjoys most – Take note when the person seems happy, anxious, distracted or irritable. Some people enjoy watching sports, while others may be frightened by the pace or noise. What activities did they enjoy most in their past life?
  2. Focus on enjoyment, not achievement – Find activities that build on remaining skills and talents. A professional artist might become frustrated over the declining quality of work, but an amateur might enjoy a new opportunity for self-expression.
  3. Encourage involvement in daily life – Activities that help your loved one feel like a valued part of the household — like setting the table — can provide a sense of success and accomplishment.
  4. Identify favorites – The person who always enjoyed drinking coffee and reading the newspaper may still find these activities enjoyable, even if he or she is not able to completely understand what the newspaper says.
  5. Relate to past work life – A former office worker might enjoy activities that involve organizing, like putting coins in a holder or making a to-do list. A farmer or gardener may take pleasure in working in the yard.
  6. Keep the person's skills and abilities in mind – A person with dementia may be able to play simple songs learned on the piano years ago. Bring these types of skills into daily activities.
  7. Consider if the person begins activities without direction – Does he or she set the table before dinner or sweep the kitchen floor mid-morning? If so, you may wish to plan these activities as part of their daily routine.
  8. Be aware of physical problems – Does your loved one get tired quickly or have difficulty seeing, hearing or performing simple movements?
  9. Consider time of day – Caregivers may find they have more success with certain activities at specific times of day, such as bathing and dressing in the morning.
  10. Adjust activities to disease stages – As their Alzheimer’s progresses, you may want to introduce more repetitive tasks. Be prepared for the person to eventually take a less active role in activities.

Fun Activities You Can Try with Your Loved One at Home

The articles “10 Stimulating Activities for Alzheimer’s Patients” and “Adapting Activities for People with Alzheimer's Disease” offer a variety of activity ideas for keeping your loved one with dementia entertained and engaged.

For example:

  • Sing songs or play their favorite music
  • Spend time with a loving pet. You can feed, walk or sit with a pet.
  • Try art and drawing. Art therapy has been shown to improve mood, decrease agitation and outbursts, increase the ability for self-expression and communication, and provide an important sense of accomplishment and purpose.
  • Exercise: Take a walk together in an area your loved one enjoys or do an easy workout together.
  • Reminisce: Watch family videos, look through old photo albums together or use other ways of reminiscing
  • Clean up around the house. Sweep the patio, wipe the table, fold towels or try other household tasks that help the person feel a sense of accomplishment.
  • Tend the garden or visit a botanical garden.
  • Read the newspaper with your loved one.
  • Look through books the person used to enjoy.
  • Cook or bake simple recipes together.
  • Work on puzzles together. Active Minds, Amazon, The Alzheimer’s Store and other sites offer special puzzles and games for those with dementia.

Heather adds, “By following the Alzheimer’s Association’s guidelines for selecting activities and trying the fun activities listed above, you can bring enjoyment and engagement to your loved one’s life.

“We encourage you to contact us with any questions you have on dementia care or to schedule a tour. Also, we invite you to read our timely blog articles on current caregiver and dementia care topics posted on our website.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog on engaging activities for a loved one with dementia, we would love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comfort of home. Our memory care community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again.

For more information, please call Sharon at 484.380.5404 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.