Activities for Dementia Patients

A walk in the park, solving a Rubik’s cube, walking, watching TV….. there are multitudes of activities that we perform every day for pleasure or for work. These little exercises help us relax and refresh, giving us a break from the stresses of our lives! But what about those suffering from dementia? How are they supposed to enjoy these kinds of activities, especially when they won’t be able to recall them the morning afterwards? Thankfully, there are several activities for people suffering from dementia, which give them the pleasure they deserve.

Activities for Dementia Patients in Early and Middle Stages

The feeling of having something tampering with your memory is not good, especially when you are told to restrict a lot of activities that you used to enjoy doing. Luckily there are plenty of exercises for those in early and middle stages of dementia with easy availability and low monetary investment. As far as the duration is concerned, many specialists recommend 150 minutes of physical activities per week -- a good 30 minutes daily. So let’s have a look at the advised activities for such patients:

1. Gardening

There are many people who love being close to nature, and what option is better than maintaining your own garden? Patients get to go outdoors and indulge in gentle exercises that can easily be altered according to personal abilities and knowledge regarding gardening. These activities improve breathing and help strengthen the body's muscles.

2. Dancing

An amazing activity to help the patients fit and fine is dancing. It is something you need not have expertise in to enjoy yourself. It also does not matter whether you are alone or in a group, doing ballet or freestyle, as long as you are happy and content. In fact, patients can also dance while being seated. Dancing reduces stress, makes you flexible, agile and fit, and improves your balancing techniques.

3. Seated Exercises

Another one of proven activities for dementia patients is doing some regular seated exercises. These exercises are less strenuous than those done in standing positions and are especially designed to enhance muscle strength and balance of the performers. Some of the activities include marching while sitting, clapping under the legs, moving the torso from left to right, stretching the arms up, doing a bicycling movement with legs and moving arms in a circular motion.

4. Swimming

Swimming is another great option, but make sure to perform it under strict supervision. Having contact with water makes people feel calm and relaxed, while the repetitive motion of arms and legs helps in improving one’s blood flow. It’s no wonder that swimming has marked its way into the list of activities for dementia patients.

5. Tai Chi

A Chinese martial arts variant, tai chi involves a number of integrated exercises, along with meditation. Also, doing this art-form can help one achieve an immaculate level of balance, which is especially helpful for senior citizens who often stumble or fall down due to poor body balance.

6. Walking

You don’t have to pay any instructor money to help you walk down the road, and this activity is very engaging. Patients can walk freely for any amount of time and length as long as their body permits them. They can walk alone or in groups, and can do so at any time that is most convenient to them.

Activities for Dementia Patients in Late Stages

If the patient in late stages of dementia is physically fit enough, doing some exercises can be extremely helpful. There is no specific duration, but when done regularly for a definite amount of time, they begin to show their benefits.

  • Patients should be encouraged to move around in the room for a proper blood flow in your system.
  • Change their chairs often. Seating in the same position for a long period of time is generally not advised for dementia patients.
  • While getting ready for bed, you can try shuffling from one end of the bed to the other, in a seated position. This exercise helps in the proper movement of the muscles.
  • Try balancing your body when in a standing position and use support, if needed. This improves your body’s posture as well as its balance.
  • Try sitting up on your own without any support for a couple of minutes, several times in a day. But make sure you do it in the presence of someone in case you do require help.
  • Lie straight in your bed for half an hour, while keeping a bare minimum distance between the mattress and your back. This strengthens as well as stretches your abdominal muscles.

Other Activities for Dementia Patients

There are several other activities that are fit for all stages of dementia and involve social contacts.

1. Group Activities

In order to fight loneliness and isolation, one can opt for a number of group activities such as group dance or a choir for developing a feeling of togetherness and teamwork. Such activities can be performed with friends and family or even with members of a community that offer patients support. However, it should be planned and executed only with the consent of the patient and under the watchful eyes of a guardian.

Activities available: Birthdays and festivals are one of the greatest options available for a start. They are enjoyable and involve a number of different people coming together for a celebration. What can be better than that? Besides, talking to family members and friends and sharing things is also a recommendation for a person suffering from dementia. Also, with the development of technology, getting engaged in social media has turned out to be a good option. The patient can search and use various platforms such as Facebook, Skype and others for increasing their interaction levels.

2. Activities to Make a Connection

Forming a connection is something that reaches to the core of being a human, and people suffering from dementia are no different. So, keeping that networking, that interaction alive, you might want to know the following activities for dementia patients.

  • Look through the photo albums: "Past is a memory, future is a mystery". Oh! How true this saying is. What can be better than revisiting the great and ageless beauty of the past via those heavy yet beautiful photo albums we keep? This activity will surely help to bring a smile on their faces as they ponder over their baby pictures.
  • Listen to a playlist of favourite music: They say music eases our soul and it really does. Playing a good number of songs will help them feel calm, relaxed and most definitely happy. Play your favourite genre – be it old school or rock punk – just sway along.
  • Other beneficial activities: Read out loud, sing old songs, watch old movies and TV shows, look through old cookbooks, enjoy favourite treats, visit and connect with animals, reminisce over childhood toys, bring back old skills, etc.
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