As a progressive condition, over time dementia can reduce a person’s ability to engage in mentally stimulating tasks. Although this is, in part, a result of the brain’s inability to retain information, it can be frustrating for the individual to come to terms with.
There are, however, activities that you can engage in with your loved one that are less mentally challenging, instead stimulating internal feelings and senses that can work equally well to promote feelings of satisfaction and achievement.
Activities you engage in with your loved one should, ideally, encourage them to reflect on their life, promote emotional connections and help to prevent feelings of anxiety and depression.
One of the simplest yet effective ways to improve mental wellbeing is by engaging in gentle exercise. Encourage your loved one to take regular strolls around the local neighbourhood or try out a new practise, such as yoga. These can really help to clear the mind, not only promoting feelings of positivity but also making daily challenges that little bit easier to cope with.
Water aerobics or swimming are also great activities to try, with some fitness centres offering sessions designed specifically for those with limited cognitive abilities.
Cooking and/or baking
Working to stimulate the senses, cooking and baking allow us to use our senses of smell and taste, activating different areas of the brain. Not only does cooking allow the individual to bring a recipe to life, but you also have something tangible – and edible – to enjoy at the end.
If your loved one is struggling to follow a recipe, try taking the reins, feeding them the instructions slowly. It also might be a good idea for you to take on the more difficult tasks, allowing your loved one to enjoy the more simple, fun aspects of cooking.
Exploring your surrounding nature
As humans, we’re instinctively attracted to nature and, of course, there is a reason for this. We naturally thrive in the outdoors and the mere intake of fresh air, as well as the scent of foliage can stimulate feelings of peace, restoring internal equilibrium. There are numerous ways you can encourage your loved one to connect with nature – whether that’s simply taking a stroll through a botanical garden, surrounding them with wildlife or doing some gardening.
Arts and crafts
Encouraging your loved one to pick up a paintbrush can really help to unleash their creativity. Engaging in arts and crafts can help them to develop their fine motor skills and they might even pick up a new hobby. If your loved one doesn’t enjoy painting, try and persuade them to take up knitting or drawing.
Being surrounded by animals has been shown to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, promoting mental wellbeing and the production of feel-good hormones. If you don’t own a pet yourself, try asking a friend to bring their furry companion to your home, or take your loved one to a local farm to spend time with small animals. Alternatively, you could undertake some research into local animal therapy services.
Just because your loved one is suffering with dementia doesn’t mean they have to miss out on fun activities that you can enjoy together.
At the Huntington and Langham Estate, we like to make activities an integral part of daily life. To find out more about our care, click here.