One of the big challenges facing caregivers of people with dementia is keeping them engaged in activities. As dementia makes it more difficult for a person to initiate activities on their own, it becomes more important for caregivers to find ways of keeping them involved. This not only boosts their quality of life, it may also help to slow the progress of the dementia.
These tips may be beneficial in keeping a person with dementia engaged in activities.
- Concentrate on process not outcomes. Often, caregivers may become too focused on the result of an activity, rather than on just the experience of the activity itself. For example, if a patient is asked to set the table, it may be more important that they are allowed to place the flatware on the table rather than worrying over whether the knives and forks are in the proper place at each setting.
- Consider capabilities. Depending on where a person lies on the dementia spectrum, they are going to be more or less capable of some activities than others. Take this into consideration when suggesting an activity. Ideally, one wants to help them engage in an activity which will require some effort on their part, but not something that will frustrate, anger, or frighten them.
- Explore the patient’s interests. If the patient is an art enthusiast, going to a museum, looking through an exhibition catalogue, or painting or sketching at home might be profitable. Similarly, if they have enjoyed cooking, finding ways that they can help in the kitchen might make a difference for them.
- Think about timing. Everyone has their own rhythms and cycles. Determine when the patient is most likely to be receptive to activities. For example, is Mom a morning person? Does Dad have a boost of energy just after lunch? Find the time when they are at their peak and take advantage of that for starting an activity.
- Show an interest. Focus on topics of discussion that the patient is likely to respond to. This may be a favorite TV show that they watch, a particular song, or their garden. And see if there are activities that might relate to these interests, such as a jigsaw puzzle featuring characters from the TV show or picking flowers from the garden for the table.