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25 Apr 2019

Activities For People with Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

Activities For People with Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

For people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, a lack of mental stimulation and boredom can be extremely frustrating. According to NHS research, there are approximately 800,000 people in the UK who are living with dementia, and around 36 million people worldwide.

When someone with one of these conditions becomes bored, frustrated or aggravated their behaviour can change - they can become erratic, stressed or even aggressive. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are provided with activities that help to engage them and ensure that their time is interesting and exciting, and that they don’t suffer from boredom.

Whether you are a carer in a care environment, a private carer in a home environment or are a carer for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s important to understand how crucial adequate mental stimulation is for their health, happiness and wellbeing. Stimulating activities can help to keep people with these conditions in a better mindset and reduce the risk of them developing depression, while helping to reduce feelings of anxiety and irritability.

These activities should aim to stir old memories that will allow people with dementia or Alzheimer’s to think back over their life and reminisce, foster emotional connections with others, encourage self-expression, help engage them further with everyday life, and help them to feel more productive. These are all crucial aspect of mental stimulation for people with these conditions, which is why focusing on them when choosing activities is so essential.

In need of ideas for the best activities to do with people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? Read on, for a wide range of ideas that are perfect for mental stimulation and preventing feelings of boredom and frustration.

Invest in dementia-friendly tools

There are many specialist stores that now sell a wide range of ‘toys’ and activities that are designed with dementia in mind. Studies have shown that people with dementia like to fidget, as fidgeting helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, which is why investing in toys that are designed to keep hands busy, can be a wise choice to make.

Active Minds, an online store that specialises in ‘fidget kits’ for people with dementia, has a wide range of designs available. With a wide range of clients, including many independent care homes and carers, in addition to the NHS, Age UK and Bupa, Active Minds have been designing dementia tools since 2010.

Active Minds hopes that by providing meaningful and engaging activities for nursing and residential homes it will help reduce problems of depression, boredom and isolation so commonly associated with dementia. Their recent social impact report showed that 100% of professional carers and 80% of family members felt the activities improved the quality of life of people with dementia.

With many more products already under development Active Minds is dedicated to continue improving the quality of life of people living with dementia, their families and carers.
Another DIY option for keeping fidgety hands busy is the creation of a busy blanket - you can read our blog post on this here.

Exercise

Various studies have highlighted the benefits of physical activity for people with dementia. Exercise comes with various benefits for people with dementia, from helping to regulate their sleep and preventing restlessness to helping them to maintain a more positive mood and reducing the chances of depression developing, which is what makes it a worthwhile activity to incorporate into the daily life of someone with dementia.

When it comes to how you can keep them active, this will depend on their level of mobility. If they have low mobility, you may need to get more creative with the physical activity that is planned. Some good options tend to include taking regular walks, tandem biking if the person is physically able to, fishing, dancing, and water aerobics. Research has also shown that a slowed down and simpler form of balance-related exercise, such as yoga or Pilates can be a good option.

Cooking lessons

Running cooking sessions can be a great way to keep people with dementia busy, particularly if they have always enjoyed cooking in the past. Cooking is a practical activity that, as long as the proper safety precautions are taken, can be a fun, safe and enjoyable way to keep people with dementia active and busy.

If a person is in the early stages of dementia, then they may not need any help, just your presence there to ensure each part of the process is performed safely. Whereas, if they are in the later stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, then they may simply watch and stir occasionally.

Pet therapy

For someone with dementia who always loved animals, pet therapy can be a fantastic way to provide adequate stimulation for them. Various studies have shown that pets are able to help relieve feelings of stress and anxiety, whilst also offering a sensory experience. Studies have also shown that pet therapy can help to lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce cortisol - the stress hormone - while increasing serotonin - the feel-good hormone.

There are various options for pet therapy; you can opt to hire a therapy dog to visit your care home or the person that you are caring for on a regular basis. Or, you could use a family pet that the person is comfortable with to provide them with pet therapy. There is also the option of arranging a day trip to a petting zoo, where there are lots of animals that can provide therapy.

Art therapy

Another great activity for keeping people with dementia or Alzheimer’s busy is art therapy. Arts and crafts, from painting and drawing to collaging and colouring, can be a great way to help keep people with dementia or Alzheimer's busy, preventing boredom from occurring.

You can either opt to arrange an art class, or you can choose to give the person or people free range of a variety of art supplies, allowing them to do whatever they prefer.

There you have it, a guide to some of the most beneficial activities for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
 

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