Activities for People With Dementia

  • A lot has been written about keeping our brains active to reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease. If a loved one develops Alzheimer's disease or another dementia, it is equally important for the person to maintain as high an activity level as possible to hold off the damaging effects of the disease. The adage "use it or lose it" comes into play here.

     

    Activities most beneficial to people with Alzheimer's disease are those that exercise memory and language functions, such as reading and doing crossword puzzles. Knitting and gardening - recommended activities for prevention -- may also be good activities if your loved one is interested and able. One of the least beneficial things a person with Alzheimer's disease can do is the passive activity of watching television. While television can be entertaining at times, some broadcasts such as the news or war movies can be frightening to someone with dementia.

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    Following are some things to consider when selecting an activity:

     

    Recall the activities your loved one always enjoyed and create a simplified version of each activity. For example, if jigsaw puzzles were a hobby, find puzzles in which your loved one will attain some level of success. Puzzles are made from as many as 5,000 pieces to as few as 3 pieces. If your loved one is working on a 250 piece puzzle and is becoming frustrated, try one that has half as many pieces and keep reducing the number of pieces as the disease progresses. This philosophy works well with books, crossword puzzles or other memory games.

     

    Reminiscence also works well as an activity. It creates a wonderful connection between you and your loved one as you talk about fond memories that you have shared, and even facts that are embedded in one's long-term memory, such as nursery rhymes, old songs, and famous sayings. Don't be afraid to tell the same stories over and over again, particularly if you get a positive reaction from your loved one. Set aside these moments of sharing. I am sure they will be rewarding for both of you.

     

Published On: December 27, 2007