Keeping busy at home is one of the most important ways to live as well as possible when you have dementia. Many people with dementia experience low mood, low self-esteem or depression partly through fears about what is happening to them and what the future holds, but also through becoming disengaged with daily life and losing interest in hobbies or activities that they once enjoyed.
One of the main reasons that live-in care is such a fantastic option for a person with dementia is because with dedicated one-to-one care, a person with dementia can be supported to continue (or resume) participating in tasks and activities of daily living, as well as much loved hobbies or pursuits. The person may discover new passions too, all thanks to having the time and space to explore opportunities with a highly trained professional to guide them.
Our live-in carers specialise in providing side-by-side support for people with dementia that enables the person to get the maximum out of each day and live their life to its fullest potential. Read on for expert tips and ideas from our live-in dementia carers that will help any family member to support their loved one with activities to improve their quality of life.
Everything as an activity with dementia
Before the person developed dementia they would have taken an active role in everything that happened in their day, and this shouldn’t change after a dementia diagnosis. From having a morning wash, getting dressed and having breakfast, to cleaning, cooking and tidying up, the person may still want to do many tasks of daily living but struggle to remember how to do them or have difficulty sequencing them.
Aim to involve the person in as much of their personal care and domestic daily life as possible. You will need to allow more time, and will probably need to start or complete some tasks for the person, but support them to do the maximum they can whilst guarding against any frustration or feelings of failure that may arise from the person attempting to do something.
You might want to have a daily tasks board up in the kitchen or another area of the home to help the person follow what needs to be done, or set up reminders if the person uses a tablet, phone or Alexa.
Cooking up a storm
Cooking is a fantastic activity, not just because it results in (hopefully) something delicious to eat, it can lead to lovely conversations during the preparation and eating too. By being involved and smelling food cooking, any flagging appetite the person has may be reawakened, and tasks like peeling vegetables, making crumble topping, kneading dough or mixing pastry will enable the person to feel they are contributing and doing something useful. Provide opportunities for the person to try a variety of tasks (with support), including whisking, mixing, stirring, passing ingredients and washing up.
Go further and try to follow favourite recipes from yesteryear together – you may be surprised at how much the person remembers from making a favourite childhood meal. For a great, regular baking task, obtain a bread maker and support the person to use it. The smell of freshly baking bread is a sensory delight.
Go further with sensory activities
It’s not just baking bread that is a great sensory activity. The person may enjoy exploring aromatherapy through hand massages or having an aromatherapy diffuser. Try different scents to soothe the person if they are restless or nearing bedtime, or more awakening smells to simulate activity or exercise.
Use texture and touch when doing craft activities – gather items from around the house and garden for the person to explore if they have restless hands. This Alzheimer’s Society blog written by Heather O’Neil documents crafts her mum (who was living with dementia) enjoyed, including card making to lessen her anxiety and fidgeting, and making wind chimes with shells and stones. You might want to make a twiddlemuff together too.
Sound, and specifically music, can be a fantastic sensory activity. Explore Music for Dementia, including M4D radio, and support the person to complete their own playlist. You may also enjoy BBC Music Memories and the British Library Sound Archive
Alongside sharing food and music from yesteryear, the person may really benefit from doing a life story project with you. Living in their own home means the person is likely to already be surrounded by memories and mementoes, photos, objects, travel souvenirs and items that document achievements they’ve had in their life. Talk to the person about these things and consider making a book, memory box, or another physical resource that tells important aspects of the person’s life. The person may also have lots of loose photographs that you could put into an album and caption together.
Keep moving and enjoy getting outside
Even though it’s getting colder, encouraging a person with dementia to wrap up warm and get some fresh air is important for mental and physical wellbeing. Have a clear up of autumn leaves in the garden, plant bulbs for next spring, and closer to Christmas try to find foliage that you could make into a wreath or table decoration together.
Walking is one of the easiest ways for a person with dementia who is mobile to keep active. Take a warm drink or soup in a flask and head to a local park together. Be creative with exercise – dance, try yoga or get stuck into some housework.
More ideas for those living with dementia
Our blog, ‘How to care for someone with dementia at home’ has lots of ideas and links, including to sources of social engagement and peer support from organisations such as DEEP and Dementia Alliance International.
The Alzheimer’s Society/Age UK search offer numerous services, including Singing for the Brain online, in-person Memory Cafes (subject to COVID-19 restrictions) and online Dementia Cafes. For people with dementia who are under 65, Dementia UK have information and sources of support.
Considering using technology? Visit Care Choices for information on how to support an older person with digital skills.
The Alzheimer’s Society have lots of additional suggestions for crafts and creative activities.
Find out more about how ENA Care Group could support you or your family by calling 0800 4334 413 or emailing .