Elderly loved ones with Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia, like everyone else, crave and benefit from connection and fulfillment. These exciting, interactive activities are a great way to spend time with your loved one while being creative and productive.
Consider your loved one's passions and strengths, or ask your family and friends. Then, urge them to mirror your actions.
Place a homemade quilt or ball of yarn in the hands of an elderly parent. Allow them to experience the quilt's weight and the yarn's scratchiness. Even if they have severe memory or cognitive problems, they may be able to crochet or knit a small amount.
Present simple instruments or sing-alongs if your relative with dementia was a musician or liked music. Musical ability may outlive other memory skills in the elderly with mild cognitive decline. For people with more severe impairment, nursery rhymes, maracas, and tambourines can somehow serve as a catalyst for creative expression.
Painting and drawing are both safe and creative ways to express feelings. Encourage the use of vibrant, dramatic colors on large surfaces. Rolls of butcher paper allow elders suffering from dementia to create without being constrained by predefined spaces.
Snip images from magazines or print off old advertisements and articles. Select subjects that correspond to your loved one's interests, such as cooking, automobiles, or fashion. Another option is to digitize and print old family photographs. Allow your family member with dementia to rearrange the elements to make images or scrapbook pages.
Photo albums with images from your loved one's youth or adolescence might rekindle good memories. Additionally, you can create books by scanning or capturing old photos.
If your elderly parent has always enjoyed tinkering, propose a project that will produce tangible results. Painting wooden boards and assembling PVC pipes are both excellent activities for seniors with a high level of motor function. For patients with more severe dementia, wooden or plastic play tools provide a similar sensation.
Choose a puzzle that features large, tactile pieces. Wooden color or shape puzzles help with matching and are virtually indestructible.
Tactile exploration can elicit memories that may be unavailable via visual or verbal prompting. Even if your loved one cannot recall their first automobile or wedding, the weight of heavy keys or hand-embroidered pearls may trigger recollections.
Looking for other activities for seniors? Check out this Senior Strong blog for more fun, safe activities you can do with your senior loved ones.
William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.