For people living with dementia, everyday activities can become daunting and challenging. However, it’s still important that they are able to engage in things that help them to feel fulfilled, stimulated, and successful – just like everybody else!
Taking part in activities that they find satisfying can help dementia patients to feel less agitated and anxious and help alleviate feelings of anger or depression. There’s even research to suggest that it can help with symptoms like wandering, and can even reduce the need for certain medications.
For older people who are living with dementia, failure-free activities can help them to feel productive as well give them a sense of achievement. In turn this can improve their mood, physical health, and general wellbeing.
So, what exactly is a ‘failure-free’ activity?
These are activities that have no right or wrong way to do them. Because everyone is different, it might be a case of experimenting with different ideas and getting creative in order to find an activity that appeals to the individual.
(IMPORTANT: Depending on the stage of dementia, it’s important that you avoid any activity that might involve sharp objects, or things that might break if bitten or that could be swallowed if the person in your care is likely to put them in their mouth.)
Care In Kent have put together a short list of failure-free activity ideas that could give a loved-one with dementia a sense of achievement, and help them to feel successful and valued.
For an older person living with dementia, a simple activity like being asked to help fold towels or other laundry can be a fantastic way to occupy their time, and gives them a stress-free activity that helps them to feel that they are contributing to the household.
Hand towels are small and easy to fold, so would be a good start for someone who has dementia. The aim is not to have perfectly folded towels – the aim is that your loved-one feels good about themselves and that they have achieved something.
So long as your loved one isn’t suffering from poor mobility or pain in their hands and fingers, tying some loose knots in a length of medium-thickness rope, and asking them to help you to untie them can be a good activity that makes them feel useful and valued.
It’s also something you could sit and do together while engaging in conversation, and can be a good way to keep stress and anxiety levels down.
Printing out and laminating a family photograph, or a picture of a scene that your loved one might recognise, and then cutting it into four or more pieces to create a personalised jigsaw can be a stimulating activity for someone who is living with dementia that offers a sense of achievement.
Another failure-free activity that an older person with dementia might enjoy is a puzzle cube. A simplified version of a Rubix cube, and easy to hold and turn, these brightly-coloured puzzles can be a good activity for older adults who like to fidget with objects.
Turning the cube to create different colour combinations can be enjoyable and soothing for an older person who is anxious or upset. Other ‘fidget’ toys on the market, such as sheets of latex ‘bubbles’ you can pop over and over again, or gadgets that spin or roll might also be helpful.
Card games are ever popular, and someone who is in the earlier stages of dementia might enjoy games such as solitaire or blackjack. A loved one in the later stages of the illness might find it enjoyable to shuffle them or separate them by colour or suit.
If a standard deck of playing cards is challenging for someone who has limited mobility in their hands, or who has poor eyesight, there are large-print playing cards available.
At Care In Kent we specialise in caring for those who are living with dementia. If you need advice on caring for an elderly loved one, or you need some support, give a member of our dedicated team a call.