Being stimulated by the environment, enjoying creative pursuits and expressing ourselves is essential at any age. Engaging in an activity helps give a person purpose, encourages social participation and fosters self expression.
For many people living with Alzheimer’s disease engaging in activities throughout the day can help reduce anxiety, wandering, agitation and depression.
Finding activities that are suitable for someone living with dementia need not be complex. A person living with dementia may not be able to function at the level they once did but that doesn’t mean they don’t crave stimulation.
If your mum enjoyed cooking all her life, a diagnosis of dementia shouldn’t change that. She may not be able to follow a menu or handle the oven but there’s no reason why she can’t engage in a hobby she enjoys.
The key to finding a suitable dementia activity is often not moving too far away from previous hobbies and interests.
Don’t be in a hurry to do things for a person. For instance, if your mum can still safely operate the stove, let her!
Try not to overcompensate for fear of a person’s safety until it is evident it’s a problem. Keep in mind that you can modify activities as dementia progresses.
What to consider:
- Try focusing on a person’s capabilities. What can they do well? What kind of activity will bring them a sense of accomplishment and achievement?
- Is the activity person centred? Does it take into account a person’s life history, previous work, interests, personality, likes and dislikes?
- Does the activity require modifying to make use of a person’s existing skills, ensuring success and enjoyment?
- Poor balance and coordination, problems with spatial awareness, difficulty with language or poor motor skills can affect how well a person performs an activity.
- Consider an individual’s overall health. Choose a time when a person has sufficient energy and concentration.
- Try something new! If a person can’t undertake a hobby like they used to they may get upset. Discovering a new interest can be stimulating for anyone.