2 October 2019
The Best Activities For People Living With Dementia
If a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, our first thoughts are; what practical things we can do to help them? How might we support our relative to remain engaged with their family and their ‘normal’ life? How can we make this transition as easy as possible, for not only the loved one in question, but for the people around them, too? There are many things we can consider when deciding what is best for a relative diagnosed with dementia. In this blog post we discuss some of the activities you can explore to maintain relationships making their transition as easy as possible.
It’s hard not to smile and laugh when a happy child is near, and people living with dementia, this feeling of happiness around children is particularly prevalent. Studies have shown that regular interaction with children causes higher levels of joy for those living with dementia. This is because children can remind them of their youth, and special time spent together – playing, reading, or even just building blocks – is a wholesome, low impact activity for them to enjoy. Playing with children helps them feel a part of something, which is so important due to how isolating dementia can feel. Additionally, it aids the children, providing them with a wider experience of people, social interaction and the needs of others. While intergenerational activities are enjoyable for those living with dementia, they can also be highly beneficial – studies have shown that playing with children can help with concentration, social skills and confidence. There are, of course, some logistical issues with intergenerational activities, such as needing tight supervision due to the unpredictable nature of children – and the space in which these visits happen – but if these issues can be ironed out, intergenerational activities can be an extremely special, enjoyable time.
Outdoors and nature
For many people, their garden is their pride and joy, and they take great pleasure in all green fingered activities. When a person is diagnosed with dementia, these interests, hobbies and favourite activities don’t just suddenly disappear, and it is important to encourage them to continue with their most loved pastimes. However, it can be difficult for some to continue engaging with the outside world, for several reasons. The condition can affect confidence and mobility, making individuals feel unsafe, therefore plenty of reassurance is needed and the activity needs to match the person’s ability level, so that they feel able to contribute in a positive way. In a government survey, it was revealed that people living with dementia still want to experience the outside, and carers think it’s important for them to be able to. In the survey, the most popular outside activities were light walking, bird watching, and spending time by the water.
Hallmark Care Homes provides many beautiful outdoor spaces and activities for residents and always encourages time spent outside when families come to visit, too. The best way to find out what a family member wants to do is, simply, to ask! Additionally, you can suggest light activities outside, such as taking refreshments in the garden, or a stroll around the grounds, to ease your loved one into the idea of exploring the outside world again.
Holidays and Travel
Holidays and travel can be extremely beneficial to some people living with dementia. Holidays can give some a break from routine, and their family some respite from carer duties. An individual will appreciate experiencing both familiar and new things, and their family will enjoy seeing their loved one having fun. However, there can of course be complications when travelling with dementia – a person may be confused by new environments or routines, and a family may be so concerned about this, that they cannot relax themselves. It’s worth bearing in mind that unfamiliar environments can be difficult for some, and there are many ways this can be eased; for example, a ‘staycation’ – a short holiday to another part of the country such as the countryside, with no international travel. This makes the uncomfortable travelling time shorter and provides more flexibility if they need to return home.
Visiting friends and family who know the person may well be another alternative and might make everyone feel more relaxed. There is also a package holiday option, where everything is organised for you. This can make it easier for a person should they want to travel alone, as they do not have to worry about transport, or make decisions about where to eat in unknown territory. A package holiday can also be a great choice for a family travelling, as the pressure is taken off when booking lots of components, and there are often similar activities and meals that take place daily that will provide a sense of routine to a family member.
Your loved ones’ safety and happiness are always our number one priority – if you have any questions about activities that you and your loved one can partake in together, please feel free to ask. Our lifestyles teams are passionate about helping families and their loved one to enjoy life to the full and are great at finding ways to make this happen!