Dementia is a progressive illness that primarily affects seniors, although early onset dementia is sometimes seen in people who are middle-aged or who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. People can live for a long time after their illness is first diagnosed, which is why high-quality dementia care is important in helping seniors stay active and independent for as long as possible.
Dementia has three main stages and the type of memory care is relative to each stage. In the earliest stage, people with the condition are typically still able to function well. They may have occasional lapses of memory — for example, they might have trouble thinking of a common word, or they might become disoriented in a familiar place. But for the most part, people with early-stage cognitive decline can still live independently, socialize, and do all the other things they're accustomed to doing.
Symptoms become more severe in the middle stage of cognitive decline. At this point, most people will struggle to live independently and take care of themselves. Once cognitive decline progresses to the late stage, people with the condition require almost constant care. Seniors with late-stage cognitive decline may forget where they are, struggle to recognize loved ones, and become unable to walk. Good dementia care can make all the difference in keeping people with late-stage dementia comfortable and happy.
The Importance of Quick Activities for Dementia Care
Since people who are in the later stages of dementia often have shortened attention spans and limited windows of time in which they are fully cognizant, dementia care activities need to be quick and efficient. In home caregivers may also find themselves with the challenge of balancing general home caregiving tasks, such as providing personal hygiene and meal preparation, with dementia care activities that treat or improve dementia symptoms. The following creative activities for dementia care are designed to be time efficient and help with symptoms.
Engage in a Household Chore
A simple, repetitive task such as folding towels can help calm the mind and increase focus. Easy chores also increase fine motor skills. There is also the chance for a memory to be triggered depending on the type of chores. For example, dusting a bookshelf may remind the senior of a book they used to read. It is important to never force a task on a senior and to not become upset if they do not perform the chore well. The point of the activity is simply to have the senior engage is something that makes them feel useful while improving dementia symptoms.
Read a Poem
The short length and soothing cadence of poetry is a way to share something creative while not burdening the senior with having to complete a task. In home caregivers can experiment with different types of poetry in order to discover ones that their clients enjoy best.
Color an Appropriate Image
Coloring is a mindful activity that can improve memory, reduce stress, and increase fine motor skills. Different images and colors can also induce memories and feelings of nostalgia. It is important to match each person with the right level of coloring because an image that is too complicated or advanced could cause anxiety while images that are too simple will not be engaging enough to affect symptoms.
Play a Memory-Based Card Game
Playing cards provide something tactile and familiar for seniors with dementia. Playing a memory-based card game is also a social activity that can help decrease symptoms of depression and loneliness. Memory games also exercise different areas of the brain, helping seniors to be more focused and alert. In order to provide quality dementia care, the level of skill needs to be matched with the abilities of the person. Some memory-based game ideas include Go Fish, Match a Pair, and Spot the Difference.
Take a Walk
It may not seem like much, but even a two minute walk can improve mood and increase blood circulation. A walk provides a change of scenery, light exercise, fresh air, time in nature, and the chance to engage in social time with members of the community. If a senior is in a very advanced stage of dementia, taking a walk to the next room or down the hall is an option.
Sing a Song
Seniors who have dementia may not always be able to join in, but in home caregivers may see an improvement in symptoms simply by singing a song each day. The best case scenario is when a senior who has dementia is inspired to join in and either sing or hum along.
Look at Animals
Spending time with animals, or even just looking at animals in a book or on the television, can be comforting to seniors who have dementia. Activities can range from petting a cat to looking through a pet magazine.
In Home Care Services and Dementia Care
Seniors who have dementia require specialized in home care services. A reputable home care agency, such as Alegre Home Care, will ensure that their in home caregivers receive dementia care training. The advantage to hiring an in home caregiver is this specialized, professional type of care.
If you have questions about in home care services or dementia care, please contact Alegre Home Care at one of our Northern California locations. We have offices located in San Francisco, Oakland, San Rafael, Santa Rosa, San Mateo, San Jose, Modesto, and Stockton and we serve the counties in the surrounding areas.