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The importance of activities in dementia care

Updated: Mar 9, 2020

Derek Fisher has written this blog to include 12 suggestions for everyday activities suitable for inclusion in dementia care. These activities have been selected from his experiences over the years working with people living with dementia.

Medication is obviously a major player in dementia care and health. Pills are vital in keeping the dementia under control to a certain degree. However , there is now a massive move towards including activities as a holistic approach in dementia care. GPs and dementia specialists are now strongly advising to include activities daily in the general care of those living with dementia. I would emphasise that activities should not totally replace meds in all cases but in fact work side by side with them.

Holistic approaches are used more and more these days and the results are overwhelmingly positive. Activities should be varied and suited to the person(s) you are caring for, here are a few examples to include; Walking in general is always good and if you can get into a park or the countryside then that’s a bonus. Fresh air is brilliant for the mind and soul.

Gardening is another very good form of exercise. It does not have to be major gardening and even sweeping leaves, etc. is good. Helping plant flowers or bulbs can be so very rewarding as you see the end product blossom. It’s good practice to empower the person living with dementia as this has a positive affect on their minds. Positivity and enabling are both key words. Familiar household chores come into their own with Cooking as another brilliant activity for someone with dementia to get involved with. Even handing kitchen utensils to you while you cook is good and requires a certain amount of concentration which can’t be a bad exercise to do. Washing and/or drying up is another form of mental exercise and activity that is seen as very rewarding.

Helping to lay the table requires some thought and is also a very good activity Helping to fold up towels, hand towels, bath towels and kitchen towels along with other general washing such as clothes is yet another very positive form of an activity. I am not a massive fan of someone living with dementia watching quiz shows on TV. If they they can’t think of the answer in time, then it becomes very frustrating for them and this then leads to them becoming unhappy and distraught. Crosswords are useful alternative, but it’s always good to them together. Unlike the TV quizzes there is no time limit to answer a question. If they become restless doing a crossword then you can always come back to it. I’m much more in favour of a person with dementia watching a favourite film or TV show. A trip to the pub is also good, particular if that’s what the person you are caring for used to do and enjoy as part of the own routine. Music is a wonderful social uplifting therapy to embrace and in most cases people with dementia respond very favourably to music. It should however be the type of music they used to enjoy. I’ve seen whole rooms of people come to life when music is played. Children and pets play an important role in dementia care. Having children come into a care home to sing at festival times is so lovely for care home residents to see. Animals are usually very people friendly and cats and dogs seem to have a sense to know that a person is not well. They often respond very lovingly and allow the person to stroke them. This is very therapeutic for someone living with dementia. Both children and pets give love unconditionally. In all forms of activities it’s always best to know the person and their likes and dislikes. Use this knowledge to its full and the person will enjoy doing what they like best.

For me I would like to watch football and cricket on TV. I’d love to walk by the coast or in the countryside . My activity must always include a cuppa!!  I’m also huge dog lover so I would appreciate the company of a dog. I must stress that these are my favourite activities and it must be remembered that we are all different . It’s not a one size fits all. What I’m saying here is to always indulge the person in an activity that you know they would really like. Know the person. I can’t stress the last sentence enough.

If you would like to learn more about planning activities for care homes visit our Academy and find a course to suit your needs.

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