If your loved one is living with dementia, you may find it more of a challenge to connect as the disease progresses. But it’s critical for family members and friends to realize that interactions and companionship remain vital to quality of life.
Even if the way you spend time together is changing, it can still be just as significant.
Why is interaction so important for those living with dementia?
Research has discovered that being involved in social activities can help reduce agitation and improve the quality of life for those who are living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Amazingly, these results were found for those who interacted less than 10 minutes a day.
Other studies have revealed that meaningful interactions can help reduce depression, increase feelings of self-esteem and improve relationships with others.
Memory care activities: tips for success
Spending time with your family member is beneficial to you both. Planning ahead for activities to share may relieve stress or reliance on conversations alone. These suggestions can help create a more positive visit:
- Choose activities that match your loved one’s preferences.
- Be flexible and attentive. If you notice anxiety or agitation, try another activity or another day.
- Consider past interests or hobbies for ideas.
- Keep the activity simple and not one that easily causes frustration.
5 activities to share with your loved one in memory care
The following ideas can help you both enjoy your time together:
1. Browse through old photo albums
Bringing in photos of family, past vacations or favorite celebrations can be enjoyable for someone living with dementia. Pictures can spark a memory or fond reminiscence. The person can take pleasure in telling a story about the moments that were captured.
Let your loved one take the lead in what memories, if any, may resurface. Contribute to the conversation but don’t put your family member on the spot. Asking questions may spark more recollections but they may also make the person feel uncomfortable if he or she doesn’t know the answers so pay attention to their responses.
Even if they don’t recognize everyone in the photos, spending time together in this way can still be enjoyable.
2. Take a drive, walk or enjoy nature together
If it’s possible, go for a drive in the old neighborhoods. You might be able to see their home, elementary school or the office that was once part of a weekly routine. Taking a walk and enjoying the fresh air is another excellent option. Enjoy watching people walk their dogs, look at the flowers blooming or the brilliant fall colors. Not only will your loved one benefit from being outdoors but the exercise as well.
You can also move your visit outside. Sitting in the sunshine can improve anyone’s mood. Or if you have access to a garden, let your fingers run together through the soil or plant seeds to later watch bloom.
3. Listen to favorite music together
Music is powerful and can be a strong trigger of emotions and memories from long ago. Listening to a favorite song or style of music can help those with dementia travel back to where they first heard the tune or tap into a recollection of a special person or occasion.
Choose a quiet spot where the two of you can sit and listen. The right music can also be soothing or improve a mood. You might try encouraging a sing-along to songs they remember from their childhood. Some individuals who struggle to communicate verbally can sing every word to a song from their past.
4. Play a game and have fun
If your family member was always the first to suggest a game night, consider this activity to try. Depending on your loved one’s ability and preferred pursuits, find one that appeals to both interest and skill.
Putting together a simple puzzle is another idea. You’ll want to choose one that isn’t too complicated or difficult. This is an activity that you can continue to work on every visit. You may want to create your own family puzzle by enlarging and printing a favorite photo and having it laminated. Cut into a few pieces and surprise your loved one with the finished result.
5. Create a memory box together
The finished box can be enjoyed by the resident even after the visit is over. Staff members can also look through the contents with your loved one, helping them to get to know the resident better and also allowing more time to reminisce.
When searching for objects to include, choose items that have special meaning for your loved one. It may be something from childhood, a favorite sport, an item that they used at work, memory of a holiday, scents of home or any objects that have a connection.
Choose a box, album or any container that your family member can easily open if they’d like to look through the box when alone.
Memory Care at a Northbridge community
At our Northbridge memory care communities, we understand the challenges of Alzheimer’s but also see the potential and possibilities for our residents. We support them to improve their quality of life and to bring even simple pleasures to their days. We hope the above information is helpful when considering what activities you may be able to share with your loved one.
The decision to search for a memory care community is not always easy to make. If your loved one is no longer safe at home or if the needed level of care is exceeding what can be provided, we invite you to contact us to discuss possible care choices. We are here to answer your questions.
Our associates are specially trained in the best practices of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care. Families are assured that their loved ones are supported 24/7 to live their best lives, with our programs, activities, healthy meals and social opportunities.