Finding the Best Activities for People Living with Dementia

Finding the Best Activities for People Living with Dementia

Finding the Best Activities for People Living with Dementia

Seniors living with dementia often find everyday activities are more difficult. But choosing appropriate, failure-free activities can lead to a better quality of life, and reduce challenging behaviors. Below are some activities to try with an older adult living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

Music Therapy

Many studies have shown that music can help bring a sense of calmness for people with dementia and even bring back some memories. By turning off the TV and playing music instead, depression is often reduced and, in many instances, behavioral issues are improved.

It’s best to use a music source with a long duration – such as a CD or streaming music. Tuning into a radio station is not a good option because the commercial interruptions can could lead to confusion.

By playing music, seniors may tap to the beat, dance, or even sing along with the lyrics of a song embedded deep in memory. If a favorite song plays, you can discuss the singer and what your loved one was doing when that music was popular.

In our Memory Care communities, Living Branches offers Music & Memory, which which provides residents with a personalized music playlist on an iPod to help reawaken the joy of music and stimulate memories.

Regular Exercise

Everyone knows that exercise is good for your overall health. This is equally true for people living with dementia! Through regular exercise, seniors can maintain a healthy appetite and sleep better at night.

Routine and structure are important parts of an exercise program. For example, you can begin in the morning with chair exercises that use props, such as streamers or scarves, top hats or balloons, accompanied by background music. Just make sure the sequence is repetitive and easy to follow.

End-of-the-day exercise could consist of walking for a set distance and time. It would be especially beneficial if that walk could take place outside. Integrating sensory experiences from nature can also lead to increased wellbeing. The residents at Living Branches find walking in nature benefits mind, body, and soul.

Art and Hobbies

Art-related activities, modified for safety, can bring a sense of meaning and accomplishment to seniors living with dementia and offer an opportunity for self-expression. Art projects could include assembling scrapbooks, drawing, or painting with watercolors.

A person living with dementia doesn’t have to give up on hobbies that enhanced their lives previously. People often still have muscle memory of a prior hobby. If someone enjoyed knitting, for example, be sure to keep the patterns simple and use larger knitting needles, but that person may still be able to knit for years after a dementia diagnosis.  For more creative arts therapy ideas and group events, see the services offered by Living Branches.

Daily Life Skills

Finally, activities from daily tasks may spark memories. Being involved in these life skills will keep seniors engaged and feeling successful. Some ideas include folding laundry such as towels, setting the table for meals, making no-bake recipes, or putting groceries in a cabinet.

For seniors, participating in meaningful activities that they enjoy can still bring pleasure to their lives. Whichever activity you try, remember these guidelines:

  • Keep the activity failure-free
  • Take advantage of past interests
  • Simplify the activity into easy steps
  • Help start up the activity when needed
  • Repeat favorites!

The caring staff at Living Branches is committed to offering a safe and engaging activities program for residents in our designated Memory Care communities. Please call Living Branches at 215-368-4438 to schedule a visit or request information about dementia care for seniors. You may also contact us via our website.

Living Branches is a non-profit system of senior living and affordable housing communities with campuses in Hatfield, Souderton, and Lansdale. Contact one of our sales counselors to see which campus is right for you.