Activities which boost wellbeing, whether through stimulating the senses, encouraging reminiscence, or helping with relaxation can all help to improve the mental wellbeing of someone living with dementia.
At a time when staying indoors has been necessary for many vulnerable people, it has never been more important to create interactive and engaging indoor activities that can be enjoyed safely. Live-in care company, Elder, have complied a variety of activities which are ideal for those living with dementia and their carers.
Photographs and other memorabilia can be highly beneficial to utilise as part of reminiscence-based activities. Select a range of images, whether it be those that include the person’s family, favourite holiday destinations, famous people, or even magazine cut outs that will be familiar to the person.
Once you have a range of images, you can begin creating the scrapbook. We recommend using photocopies so you can do the activity time and again. Sit down together in a comfortable environment which is free from loud noises and distractions and let the person with dementia explore each image in their own time.
Asking gentle questions surrounding each image as this can be great for evoking memories and encouraging recognition of people and places.
Once you have completed the scrapbook, you can bring this out to utilise as part of other reminiscence activities, and to browse through together at a later date.
Cooking a meal that is familiar to the person with dementia can be brilliant for boosting wellbeing. The act of preparing and eating a meal together is not only engaging and interactive, but as our senses are closely linked to memory, the smells and tastes can help to trigger memories.
For example, if the person visited the seaside a lot as a child, cooking or eating fish and chips could elicit happy memories of time spent here. Remember to consider that appetite can change as someone progresses along the dementia journey, so the person may be over faced with lots of food, start with a smaller meal and you can always add more.
3. Watch an old film
Watching a familiar film can help to boost wellbeing and mood, as films have been shown to not only evoke memories but also encourage socialisation. Asking questions about the film, such as, ‘when did you first see this film?’ ‘which cinema did you like to go to when you were younger?’ can be highly beneficial for sparking conversations.
It’s important to be patient when asking questions and not always expect the ‘correct’ answer. Engaging and getting involved in the conversation can be just as important, so give the person with dementia plenty of time and gentle encouragement.
Listening to music can be a great reminiscence activity for someone living with dementia. Listening to specific songs they like or are familiar with, such as their wedding song, or a song that came out when they were young or used to dance to, not only helps to boost mood and evoke happy memories but can also encourage movement, and if abilities allow, dancing.
This can be fantastic for enhancing mood and encouraging expression, whilst getting gentle physical exercise.
5. Painting and Drawing
Creative and artistic activities are wonderful for boosting mood, self-expression, and for providing a sense of achievement for someone living with dementia. It’s important to choose an activity which is suited to the persons personality and preferences as well as abilities so as not to cause frustration.
Activities can be anything from painting a still life, to colouring in or making decorations together. It’s important to remember that it is the taking part in the activity, which is most important, and ‘finishing’ it, is not vital. Display the artwork or decoration to help boost wellbeing further and provide a sense of accomplishment.
Art therapy can be particularly beneficial when based on the persons memories or passions, so choose objects or activities which will help to spark memories and conversations.
There are many simple and safe activities that are suitable for carers and those living with dementia which can be fantastic for boosting overall mood and wellbeing, whilst encouraging cognitive stimulation and physical activity.
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