As our older loved ones advance through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, their ability to remain interested in everyday activities decreases, despite their need to stay busy and to feel productive. As a result, finding ways to engage in fun recreational activities for older adults with dementia can be extremely challenging.
If you’re experiencing this now with someone you love, you know that every stage of Alzheimer’s presents its own distinctive challenges. The first hurdle to overcome may be helping your loved one remain interested in an activity – even one that used to be a favorite hobby at one time. Another problem may be choosing an activity that is in line with his/her physical ability. Reading, for example, may have been enjoyable when your loved one was younger. But if eyesight is failing and comprehension is now more limited, reading might have become too difficult. This can be particularly frustrating if the senior remembers enjoying this activity in the past. Yet remaining active is still important, to help reduce disruptive behaviors and feelings.
Below are several helpful tips to increase the chances of finding effective recreational activities for older adults with dementia:
- Keep the older adult’s current abilities and limitations in mind while choosing an activity.
- Be mindful of the time of day you want to introduce the activity to the senior. Many individuals with dementia react differently to directions at night, as compared to earlier in the day.
- Focus on simply the enjoyment of the activity itself, rather than the end result.
- Provide simple instructions, one step at a time, and offer support as needed – but never take over.
- Maintain a sense of purpose in the activity. For example, explain that you’d like to send a thank-you card to someone and then ask the senior to help you.
- Replace a behavior with an activity. If your loved one is rubbing her hand on the table, for instance, give her a cloth and ask her to wipe off the table. Or, if the senior is moving his or her feet on the floor, put on some music so the senior can tap them to the beat.
- If a particular activity isn’t working, it could just be the wrong time of day, or it may be too challenging. Try again later, or adjust the activity.
- Keep an eye on the time, with a limited time allotted for an activity if the senior’s attention span seems to be limited.
Helping older adults with dementia remain engaged in recreational activities, even for short periods of time, is helpful for both of you, but at Stay Home Care, the leaders in Brentwood elder care and senior care in the surrounding areas, we know that it isn’t always easy, and we’re here to help. Our skilled and compassionate caregivers provide home care services that are customized to each individual, and each member of our care team is specially trained in dementia care, to offer a wealth of resources for families navigating the Alzheimer’s journey.