Activities for Dementia Patients at Home
Dementia is a syndrome that drastically changes the lives of those it affects. It can be overwhelming and intimidating, but it is not impossible to combat, especially if you implement a plan involving activities for dementia patients.
Make no mistake, a dementia diagnosis can be life-altering, not only for the patient but for all of his/her loved ones. Left unchecked, this ailment can deprive individuals of their comfort and any semblance of quality of life.
People do not need to stand idly by, however. This article will provide ways to keep people with dementia engaged so they can still enjoy a good quality of life even as this syndrome continues to affect them.
Please feel free to continue reading and find out the best ways to battle dementia.
What Is Dementia?
To effectively fight dementia, it helps to first develop a deeper understanding of it. The WHO (World Health Organization) describes dementia as a chronic or progressive syndrome that causes an individual’s cognitive function to decline significantly.
A decline in cognitive function in aging individuals is normal and expected, but what dementia does is accelerate that deterioration even further. Even brain functions not usually affected by aging, suffer after an individual is diagnosed with dementia.
Dementia does more than affect one’s ability to think and comprehend. Personality traits may also start to change as the syndrome continues to progress.
One of the more challenging aspects of dealing with dementia is that the person affected may start to lose control of his/her emotions faster. They may become prone to outbursts and fits of aggression. There may also be days when they have a lack of motivation and will only want to sit and do nothing.
Patients who continue to deal with dementia may also become unable to recognize their loved ones at some point.
What’s clear is that this syndrome can have a deep and devastating effect on someone’s mental faculties and even their personality. That’s still not the full extent of its ill effects, however.
How Dementia Affects a Person’s Physical Capabilities
The ill effects that dementia has on a person’s mind usually get all of the attention and understandably so. That said, you cannot ignore how it affects a person’s physical capabilities.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia, and those who have seen it affect their loved ones can tell you how it can negatively impact a person’s physical wellbeing.
The symptoms can be subtle at first. They may be subtle enough that you might even disregard them as being the common side effects of aging.
For instance, walking slower than normal and difficulty balancing oneself are early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease that can easily be mistaken for natural changes that are brought about by aging.
Other physical symptoms of dementia that you may miss include weakened muscles or difficulties that stem from standing or sitting upright.
The other physical symptoms of dementia will be harder to miss because of how badly they can affect someone.
People who have this disease may start to have a harder time controlling their waste functions, and they may also suffer from occasional seizures. Affected individuals may also experience more trouble doing something such as eating, and they become more prone to choking on food.
The Different Stages of Dementia
One of the most important things to know about dementia is that it is a progressive condition. Your loved one’s condition will not remain static after being diagnosed. Even if they are hardly showing any signs of suffering from dementia early on, that could change noticeably as the months and years go by.
To give you a better idea of what to expect, it helps to know what the symptoms are to the different stages of dementia.
The Early Stage
At the early stages, dementia hardly makes its presence felt. People who have this condition may start to become more forgetful, and they may also start to lose track of time more frequently. Again, it’s hard to spot those symptoms because many people think of it as the side effects of growing old.
Other signs may start to appear. An individual may get lost in a place that they know extremely well. As soon as you notice an older loved one having a hard time finding where to go at a favorite mall or shopping spot, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor.
This is also the stage when people with dementia may start to walk slower or lose their balance more often. Keep an eye out for those happenings too.
The Middle Stage
Professionals characterize the middle stage by the early signs of dementia growing worse.
The occasional bouts of forgetfulness become more frequent. Recalling basic facts such as names and places may also be harder for people dealing with the middle stages of dementia.
Previously, they were only getting lost in places they like to visit often. As dementia progresses, though, affected individuals may struggle to get around their own homes.
This is also the stage when they will start to lean on others more. Caring for themselves may become a trickier ordeal, meaning you or a caretaker will need to step in and provide assistance.
The Late Stage
In the latter stages of dementia, affected individuals will find it difficult to do anything on their own. Leaving them alone is risky because they may not recognize their surroundings and wander off. They may also be unable to recognize their loved ones.
This is the stage where individuals start to become more aggressive, leading to them occasionally lash out. Dementia patients may also suffer from bouts of depression if they haven’t already experienced this previously.
Hopefully, you can find an ideal assisted living facility for your loved ones before they hit this later stage so they can continue to be supported properly.
Why Is Staying Active Important for Someone with Dementia?
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for dementia at this point in time.
Learning that there is no cure for dementia may cause you to feel disheartened. You cannot allow that to discourage you from helping, though. Even if no cure is currently available, there are still ways to support someone with dementia and give them a great quality of life.
This is why you need to look into scheduling activities for dementia patients at home. Alternatively, you can also look for assisted living facilities that provide activities for patients to take part in.
Activities are beneficial to dementia patients in more ways than one.
First off, being active slows down the deterioration of their physical capabilities. As noted earlier, dementia can take a physical toll on an affected individual’s body.
By being more active, patients can strengthen their bones, muscles, and joints. That should help stave off some of the health complications caused by dementia for a little while longer.
Motor skills can also be more effectively maintained if you ask a dementia patient to perform different activities on a regular basis.
Another good reason to incorporate activities into a dementia patient’s daily schedule is because doing so helps keep him/her engaged. Though stimulating activities may not bring back memories or improve deteriorating mental skills, they can still provide a welcome bit of engagement for a patient.
Activities allow them to have fun, and that’s always important. Regardless of how much their condition has deteriorated, individuals affected with dementia still deserve a good quality of life. Encouraging them to take part in activities will help make that happen.
Precautions to Take Prior to Asking Dementia Patients to Engage in Activities
Before you start the activities, there are some precautionary measures you need to take to ensure the safety of your loved one.
You can start by asking them to wear an ID card. On the off chance that your loved one can slip away from the property, you want others to quickly identify them and bring them back home.
It’s also important to remember that your loved one may not be as capable as he/she used to be. Because of that, keeping the activities light and easy will help him/her have fun without draining too much of his/her energy.
Lastly, don’t plan only one activity for your loved one to do. If it turns out that they are not up for one particular activity, you don’t want to give up on accomplishing anything for the rest of that day. Have backup activities ready to apply if your first suggestion flops.
How to Pick Out Activities for Dementia Patients
With the precautionary measures out of the way, you can now turn your attention to picking out activities. But which activities are best for dementia patients?
Here’s the thing: There is not an activity list that will work for every person affected by dementia. You will need to create one that is most compatible with your loved one.
To do that, you should consider two factors.
Start by thinking of activities that your loved one liked prior to the onset of their dementia. Did he/she like solving puzzles or enjoy dancing and other physical activities previously? Referencing the things, they liked before will be key to engaging them better now.
You should also take the time to evaluate the skills still possessed by your loved one. Scheduling an activity, they liked but may no longer be able to perform may bring about frustration. That must be avoided at all costs so pay attention to their capabilities and adjust your activity list accordingly.
Different Activities for Dementia Patients to Try
It’s worth repeating that the list of activities you put together should cater to the specific abilities and interests of your loved one. If you’re new to this, though, you may have a tough time trying to come up with some ideas.
Here are some suggestions worth trying out.
Solving Puzzle Games with the Help of Technology
Puzzles are great for stimulating brain activity and getting dementia patients to focus on the task at hand. However, asking them to complete a physical puzzle may not be a good idea since pieces may go missing.
Instead of purchasing a physical puzzle, it may be wiser to invest in a laptop and give your loved one access to puzzles and games. Many developers have made software accessible, so your loved one can now interact with them properly.
Engaging in Light Exercises
Perhaps the person you’re caring for is still relatively fit. In that case, you may want to try some light exercises.
A light yoga session can be pleasant. You and your loved one can also take a stroll around the neighborhood. Remember, make sure that he/she is always close by.
Caring for something can be a rewarding experience. A pet may be overwhelming for some dementia patients but asking them to care for plants is a good alternative. They may even get a kick out of the plants bearing fruit or blooming.
A good way to make use of those plants you have grown with your loved one is to cook them. Try to prepare an old favorite and see if that puts a smile on your loved one’s face.
Finally, the simple act of striking up a conversation can work wonders for someone with dementia. You can try to reminisce about old times and talk about other family members.
If your loved one is already struggling with their memory, you can ask them how their day went.
Reach Out to an Assisted Living Facility Today
While most people would love to take care of their relatives themselves, the realities of work and commitments to other family members may make doing so impossible. Don’t worry, though, as assisted living facilities such as Bethany Homes can care for your loved ones in your stead.
Get in touch with them now and inquire about how they can help you and your loved one.