Helping anyone adjust to life in memory care can have its challenges, especially when it’s someone you love. A great way to help your loved ones adjust to their new life is to engage them in fun activities. We’re going to recommend a few activities in this article that are easy and enjoyable.
1) Tend A Small Garden
Tending a garden is a great activity for people with dementia or similar conditions. Growing, watering, and caring for plants is a low-stress activity that’s easy to focus on. Gardening is also quite therapeutic.
Caring for a garden is a great way to get some extra vitamin D and enjoy the outdoors. Being in nature is usually very soothing and comforting. Watching the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor can provide a much-needed sense of accomplishment.
It’s best to keep the garden at a manageable level. A large garden can be overwhelming and requires a lot more work. Try starting with a 4 x 4-foot bed for one person. You can expand the garden if you’ve got a group of people caring for it collectively.
Most importantly, plant vegetables, fruits, and flowers that you and your loved one will enjoy! Carrots, green beans, lettuce, and tomatoes are easy vegetables to grow. Marigolds are a great flower for warding off pests, and a small berry bush is a great place to start.
2) Take Up Knitting
Knitting can help reduce depression, anxiety, and chronic pain in people with cognitive impairments. Some research suggests that knitting can help slow the progression of certain conditions, like dementia.
Consider knitting for a fun social activity. Getting a group of people together can be an easy way to bolster connections and help ease feelings of loneliness or isolation. It’s an activity that can be practiced throughout life, even when strength and sight begin to fade.
3) Make A Collage
Collages are an easy craft to work on together. Collages can be a fun form of creative expression, especially if the person you’re doing the activity with has trouble expressing themselves.
All you need is some pictures, safe scissors (child’s scissors are a good option), craft glue, and some paper. You can also use other supplies, like stickers or foam boards. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to make a collage.
Consider including some copies of photos from the person’s life to add to their collage. You can also cut out pictures from magazines or print some fun images out. Think about what your loved one would like to see.
4) Cook Together
Involving your loved one in meal preparation is a great way to engage their mind and connect with them. Cooking or baking together is a fun activity you can both enjoy. Plus, you get to enjoy a delicious meal once you’re done.
When cooking with someone who has dementia, avoid giving them dangerous tasks like chopping or boiling water. Some ways to involve them include:
- Mashing potatoes
- Shucking corn
- Mixing/whisking ingredients
Make sure you’re always present to supervise and provide directions when needed. While cooking and baking together can be fun, it’s important to watch what the other person is doing to prevent injuries and accidents.
5) Listen to Music
Listening to music is a great way to relax and connect with your loved one. Research shows that music can be hugely beneficial as musical memories are often fairly well preserved. These memories live in a part of the brain that’s often undamaged by dementia.
Music can help relieve stress, reduce anxiety and depression, and ease agitation. People who care for those with memory issues and people with memory issues can both benefit from listening to music.
Think about the preferences of the person or group. Play songs that are familiar and evoke happy memories. They might remember the melody or words. Singing along and clapping is a great way to get engaged. You can also try a “Name That Tune” game with simple tunes, like lullabies for kid’s songs.
Make sure you avoid overstimulation. When listening to music, turn off any other devices (like the TV).
6) Do A Puzzle
Puzzles provide a sense of control and comfort to many people with conditions like dementia. This activity is a great way to instill a sense of accomplishment and stimulate the brain. You can do puzzles with your loved one, or they can do puzzles with other residents to socialize.
Working on a puzzle can have the same benefits as meditation. Focusing on a puzzle can help reduce stress and focus the mind. Try doing puzzles with images the person enjoys. You can even do custom puzzles that create a photo from their life.
7) Go For A Walk
Light exercise is great for the mind and body, so going for a walk is a great activity to relax and refresh. Being outside, surrounded by nature, can calm the mind. Take your time and stop to enjoy the view. Ask if your loved one wants to look for birds or wildlife as a way to focus the mind.
Scenic walks with less traffic are usually a better choice to avoid overstimulation. If you can, try to walk on walking paths rather than sidewalks next to the road.
If the person you’re with has limited mobility, see if they’d be open to going out in a wheelchair. Don’t force them to go out, but you can encourage them to get some fresh air. Even sitting outside for a little bit can greatly improve one’s mood.
8) Read A Book Together
Reading is an excellent way to stimulate the brain. Different books will work better for certain people. Try getting books with large font, pictures, and simpler vocabulary. You want to be cognizant of what will make your loved one feel the most comfortable.
Reading together is a fun way to bond. Take turns reading pages or chapters. This can relieve some of the pressure on the person you’re reading with. Consider books that evoke feelings of happiness and peace. You can even try children’s books if your loved one enjoys them.
9) Untie Knots
Untying and tying knots is a great activity to engage the mind. This is a particularly good activity if the person doing it has limited mobility. Loosely tie some simple knots in a rope. Try to use a rope with medium thickness so it’s easier to grip.
Ask your loved one to help you untie the knots. If they get through the first set easily, you can try making the knots a bit trickier. Be careful not to make it too difficult to avoid frustration.
10) Try Painting
Creating art is an excellent activity for people with memory issues. Painting in a calm environment can be very therapeutic and, sometimes, can provoke moments of clarity. If your loved one enjoys creating art, doing some painting together is a great way to connect and put them in a good mood.
Presenting opportunities to be creative can help people with memory issues express themselves. Depending on the person, conditions like dementia can affect different parts of the brain. Sometimes, art can help compensate for gaps in language and other forms of expression.
Just Be There
The best thing you can do for your loved ones, or anyone with a condition like dementia, is just be there with them. Listen to their stories, spend time together, and show them you care for them. They can still feel your love. To learn more about memory care options, or to answer any questions you may have, please reach out to our team who will be happy to assist you.