For seniors living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is important to recognize they still need and deserve a good quality of life. Too often, people with dementia — whether at home, in assisted living or a nursing home — are under-stimulated and unengaged in life.
With the help of professional caregivers, there are many ways to plan and provide appropriate activities for people with dementia. Staying active and engaged is beneficial for both physical and cognitive health, so it’s particularly important for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to engage in daily activities.
Some activities have proven to be particularly helpful for those with dementia — such as games, exercise and outdoor activities, and music and art, as well as maintaining day-to-day routines. By providing structure and routine for a person living with dementia, it helps to maintain their cognitive function, sense of security, and can calm anxious or aggressive behaviors. It also helps provide a sense of control over their day and their environment, especially for those in the early stages of the disease. For those in the end stage of dementia, many of these activities are often one of the few ways they can still engage their memories and communicate.
At Unicity Healthcare, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care is our specialization. Many renowned healthcare providers and Elderly service providers in New Jersey call on our expertise when dealing with people with Alzheimer’s / Dementia.
Alzheimer’s being a progressive disease, it is essential care be supervised and adjusted at each level of Alzheimer’s disease: the early stage, the middle stage and the late stage. Our Senior Advisors make sure to guide you through the appropriate care alternatives during the progression of the disease.
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To help keep your loved one busy and actively engaged in meaningful activities, below we offer some suggestions on activities you can consider when caring for your senior living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It is important to keep in mind that everyone enjoys different activities, and you should try the activities that best fit your loved one’s personality, needs, and situation.
The Benefits Of “Meaningful Activities”
Meaningful activities—those that engage the person’s attention and connect with their interests—are critical in the provision of care for those with dementia. It is important to offer a variety of meaningful activities for people living with dementia for the following reasons:
- Physical Activity and General Health: Activities that involve physical exercise have overall health of someone living with dementia. Remaining physically active can prevent other health problems and help maintain functioning in activities of daily living and mobility.
Mental Stimulation and Cognitive Health: Participating in activities that engage the brain is very important for those living with dementia. Research has suggested that structured activity programs may slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s or even improve cognitive functioning for periods of time.
Social Interaction: Activities facilitate socialization, an important aspect of mental health. Social interaction can combat feelings of loneliness, isolation or depression for those who are living with dementia.
Improved Sleep Habits: Activities can provide a routine for the day, which can improve sleeping at night. If a loved one sits in a chair all day and does not participate in any type of activity, it’s likely she’ll fall asleep several times throughout the day, which can affect nighttime sleep. Providing activities that have meaning for the individual helps minimize napping during the day and encourage a better night of sleep instead.
Decrease Depression and Anxiety: Engaging people with dementia in activities can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety when they enjoy activities that are engaging and of interest to them.
Minimize Behavioral Challenges: When activities of interested were offered to those living with dementia, they demonstrated a significant decrease in challenging behaviors such as shadowing, repetitive questioning, agitation, and argumentative interactions. Many studies have shown similar benefits of meaningful activities.
Improve Quality of Life: Research has shown that people living with dementia who participated in meaningful activities increased their quality of life.
Activities For Those Living With Alzheimer’s
Remember to concentrate on the process of an activity and not the results. If your parent or senior loved one resists an activity, you can try again later, or ask your senior loved one how the activity can be changed to make it more enjoyable for them. What matters is that your loved one enjoyed the time spent on it and felt useful. Our activity suggestions are as follows:
Hobbies/Arts & Crafts
- Simplify Old Hobbies. For example, for those who enjoyed crossword puzzles, try a jigsaw puzzle with large pieces.
- Garden Together. Basic, repetitive tasks such as raking, watering plants are especially helpful if the patient enjoyed gardening in the past.
- Paint/Color: Paint with watercolors, draw with crayons – keep it simple
Exercise can be beneficial for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, such as helping to maintain a healthy appetite, get a good night’s sleep and achieve a good mood and temperament. Some suggestions:
- Walking Together
- Yoga or Tai Chi
- Sorting Games. Sort objects by color, shape or design.
- Play Ball. Use balloons or large, soft balls to play catch.
- Puzzles. jigsaw puzzles are recommended
- Talk About The “Old” Days: Encourage your loved one to remember highlights of their life: a favorite season, trip, their wedding day.
- Watch Family Videos: watching old movies, or making a new one where family members discuss their fondest memories of your loved one.
- Look Through Photos Together: Old pictures can trigger pleasant memories.
- Watch Favorite Movies Or TV Shows
- Keep Memory Book: keep a book of the memories your loved one has related, and ask him or her to share it with grandchildren, other younger relatives.
Adults with advanced Alzheimer’s often respond to music, and especially music from their past. In fact, researchers have found that the ability to process music remains intact into the late stages of the disease.
- Trigger Old Memories: Play their favorite music from their youth or well-known popular songs of their day.
- Dance: If they enjoyed dancing, they may respond to the sight of others dancing. Dance for them or share a show/video on dance.
- Sing Together: People with Alzheimer’s often retain melodies and words to popular songs. Print out the words to a song and sing along.
Pets and animals are a source of unconditional love. People with Alzheimer’s may find that the company of animals such as cats and dogs provide comfort, or on a lesser scale, even just watching birds or fish can be relaxing.
Even as Alzheimer’s advances, your loved one will retain all of his or her senses. Here are some ideas of things to do when the disease has progressed:
- Talk To Them (even if they cannot respond, this doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of your presence)
- Gently Comb Their Hair
- Moisturize Skin
- For Men; shave their face
- For Women; manicure or hand massage with lotion
- Give dolls to play with or soft teddy bears to cuddle or stroke
Unicity Healthcare: Our Plan Of Activities
There are many reasons why it’s important to incorporate meaningful activities into a care plan for those living with dementia. When basing activities off of the person’s individual personality and interests, you will begin to see joy from your loved one, and a sense of purpose when engaging in these activities.
For our clients whose best care alternative is homecare, Unicity offers activities planning. Our Geriatric Care Management team has created a unique plan of activities for people with Dementia. Whether they live at home or in an assisted living facility, our clients and their families can benefit from this plan of activities. The goal is to keep the elderly engaged and stimulated through various customized activities that can be led by a caregiver or one of our Dementia specialists/ Senior Advisors. Our plan of activity is a unique 3 step process involving:
- A thorough assessment of the cognitive and physical abilities of the elderly, along with their interests.
- The write up of a customized plan of activities and the presentation of the plan to the family member/ responsible party.
- Implementation of the plan of activities by one of our Senior Advisors including the training of the caregiver or and/ activities led sessions by one of our Senior Advisors.
Planning activities for people with dementia is a continuous process. As the disease progresses, Our Senior Advisors will keep the activities flexible and make the appropriate adjustments.
Bringing Peace Of Mind To Clients And Their Families
At Unicity Healthcare, our integrated care management services bring peace of mind to our clients and their families. By integrated we mean that our Care Managers, who are either highly experienced geriatric Social Workers or Registered Nurses, act as the glue that holds the care process together. Our scope of intervention and expertise is broad. There is always a solution and we are here to help!
If your aging senior needs extra help and support and may be in need of geriatric or in-home care, Unicity Healthcare is here to help. Unicity Healthcare’s geriatric care managers work closely with families to provide the assistance and peace of mind they need.
We provide companion care, personal care, and Alzheimer’s and dementia care so family members can rest easier. You can benefit from the expertise of our experienced Senior Advisors, and can inquire on how to seek help from Unicity’s qualified home care professionals to help ease the burden.
For more information please contact us at:
Explore our website: Unicity Healthcare https://www.unicity-ec.com/